Bill Would Eliminate Wyoming’s ‘Gun-Free Zones’

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By Mark Heinz, Outdoors Reporter
Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com

Signs stating “no firearms allowed” are displayed prominently near the entrances to the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne.

If House Bill 105 passes the Legislature and is signed into law, they’ll come down, as will “gun-free zone” notices all over Wyoming.  

The measure, primarily sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, was received for introduction Jan. 11, but hadn’t been assigned to a legislative committee as of Friday. 

Mostly A Free-Carry State

Both open and concealed carry of firearms without a permit is allowed in Wyoming, and particularly during hunting seasons it’s not unusual to see people bearing arms in the Cowboy State. 

However, it’s still largely left up to property owners, businesses and institutions whether firearms are allowed on their premises. Many businesses won’t allow customers or employees to bring their guns. 

Guns are likewise effectively banned on the University of Wyoming campus, as well as in or around most public schools and other public buildings, such as county courthouses. 

HB 105 aims to eliminate those restrictions in public or taxpayer-funded spaces. Private property and businesses owners could still restrict firearms on their premises as they see fit. 

Moreover, it would make it a misdemeanor offence to try preventing someone from concealed carrying in any of those places, punishable by up to a year in prison and/or a $2,000 fine. 

Accidental Gunshot In Starbucks

Opponents of previous attempts to challenge gun-free zones in Wyoming have raised concern about safety, including mishaps with firearms. 

Nobody was hurt in once such incident in 2011 at a Starbucks in Cheyenne. 

A 17-year-old girl entered the store with a small handgun concealed inside her purse. When she accidently dropped the purse on the floor, the impact caused the gun to fire. 

And in 2010, many Cody residents balked when gun rights advocates pushed for firearms to be allowed in the city’s recreation center. 

That effort was unsuccessful, and the center’s prohibition on guns held.

Arbitrary Taking Of Rights?

Worries over an increase in shootings, either accidental or deliberate, are frequently cited whenever gun-free zones are challenged, Gun Owners of America spokesman Mark Jones told Cowboy State Daily. 

“It’s the same objections that are always raised to people getting back their firearms rights that have been arbitrarily taken away by the government,” he said. “These restrictions have never been proven to make anyone safer or to reduce crime.”

People are allowed to concealed carry in the capitol buildings in other states, such as South Dakota and Montana, he added. 

A request for comment from UW about the possible implications HB 105 might have for the campus’ gun policy wasn’t returned Friday. 

People may concealed carry on campus only if they are granted a special permit from the UW Police Department based upon a demonstrated need, such as legitimately fearing for their safety because of threats or stalking. 

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