By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A measure that would prohibit Wyoming officials using state money to enforce federal firearms restricts won initial Senate approval Thursday despite complaints from a Second Amendment advocacy group that it did not go far enough to protect gun owners.
Senate File 102, the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” was approved for introduction in the Senate by a vote of 21-9.
The measure is similar to others offered in the past designed to prevent law enforcement officers in Wyoming from enforcing federal measures that infringe on Second Amendment rights, said sponsor Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs.
Hicks, speaking in support of the bill’s introduction, said it was developed in cooperation with law enforcement, legislators and others over a three-month period.
“This is a sound bill that provides Wyoming citizens and Wyoming law enforcement the authority to push back (against) unconstitutional infringements on the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of the state of Wyoming,” he said.
The bill specifies that no Wyoming government entity can use state funds to enforce federal measures that are seen as infringing on the Second Amendment.
The measure was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.
SF102 cleared its first Senate hurdle despite an attempt by Wyoming Gun Owners to generate support instead for an alternate bill, SF87, the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.”
SF87 specifies that federal acts and laws, such as new taxes on firearms and ammunition, will be considered unconstitutional in Wyoming and will have no effect in the state.
The bill, which opens with a lengthy legislative finding regarding Second Amendment freedoms, also calls for penalties against any governmental entity that tries to enforce federal gun laws.
The bill’s main sponsor is Sen. Anthony Bouchard. It had not been introduced in the Senate by Thursday and the deadline for the introduction of bills in the Senate was Friday.
Aaron Dorr of Wyoming Gun Owners, a vocal supporter of a similar bill sponsored by Bouchard in 2021, criticized the bill introduced in the Senate, urging listeners to his podcasts to contact legislators to encourage them to pass Bouchard’s bill instead.
Dorr said SF102 did not go far enough to protect gun owners.
“Our … bill, which is the best draft you’ll ever see here in Cheyenne, covers every single conceivable firearm, ammunition or accessory that you happen to own that touches on the Second Amendment,” he said.
Dorr criticized SF102 as giving too much authority to law enforcement officers and government officials as opposed to regular citizens.
“You have no enforcement for the citizens and no major civil penalties to serve as the … positive reinforcement to remind Wyoming law enforcement agencies not to violate (the act),” he said.
The bill would also allow the state to work with federal agencies and use federal money to enforce gun rules, Dorr said.
As a result, SF102 is an inferior bill to SF87, Dorr said.
“We have a horrific bill, what a treacherous, intentionally, treacherous bill that provides no protection to gun owners…” Dorr said. “And it’s being pushed by the worst people in the legislature. It should make you angry, it should make you outraged.”