By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A bill that would prohibit Wyoming law enforcement officers from enforcing any federal regulations considered to infringe on the Second Amendment was approved by a committee Tuesday for debate on the full House floor.
Senate File 102, the “Second Amendment Protection Act” was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on a vote of 6-3, sending it to the House for debate.
The measure was approved after chief sponsor Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, told committee members the bill is based on a the legal concept that the federal government cannot force states to enforce federal rules.
“They can’t hijack the state of Wyoming and say ‘You’re going to enforce something,’” he said.
The bill would prohibit any public entity receiving state money from enforcing federal regulations interpreted as a violation of Second Amendment rights.
Byron Oedekoven, executive director for the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, said his organization, which helped draft the bill, backs it as a way to communicate the state’s position on federal gun control measures.
“This was several months worth of discussion to come up with a very clean, simple statement to push back, again, to the federal government and say ‘We will not participate in any unconstitutional efforts that would infringe or impede the Second Amendment,” he said. “I don’t know how much stronger we can say that.”
The bill was also supported by some members of the public who offered comments during the hearing that ran for about one hour.
“I believe this bill to be a good bill, a strong bill that does what it needs to, which is protect my Second Amendment rights against the never-ending federal overreach …” said Bill Carmichael.
The bill won committee approval despite objections from the Wyoming Gun Owners group, represented by Aaron Dorr.
Dorr said the bill puts too much power in the hands of public officials, who would be responsible for prosecuting any law enforcement officer found guilty of violating the act. He said he preferred a bill killed earlier this session that would have allowed citizens to take legal action against government officials who enforce unconstitutional federal measures.
“The reality is no county attorney, no county prosecutor and very likely not even the attorney general would ever bring a sheriff, a police chief or their agency into court for a … violation. This is not politically feasible, this is not going to happen. What this has become now is a bill to protect the careers of politicians and not gun owners in the state.”
Also objecting to the bill were residents who said they were worried it would prevent the enforcement of common sense firearm regulations.
“This bill opens the door to extreme interpretation of the Second Amemdent that could prevent reasonable gun safety laws from being enforced in our state,” said Liz Prax. “SF102 … will make our state more vulnerable to unnecessary gun violence, not less. And that will put the Second Amendment in even more jeopardy.”
“The bill will cause confusion and undermine the rule of law,” said Beth Howard, of the Wyoming chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “It will encourage extremists not to enforce federal laws that they personally disagree with.”