Bill Sniffin: Wyoming Has More Guns Than People, And Lots Of Crazy Stories

Bill Sniffin writes: Wyoming is Gun Central in the United States. Two-thirds of the residents own guns and there may be more guns than citizens of this fine state."

Bill Sniffin

January 27, 20236 min read

Bill and guns 1 27 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Guns, guns, guns.

Wyoming is Gun Central in the United States. Two-thirds of the residents own guns and there may be more guns than citizens of this fine state.

There are at least three gun-related bills grinding through the Legislature as I write this – gun ownership is a big, big deal here in the Cowboy State. 

Wyoming is full of funny and weird gun stories. 

• Back on Dec. 3, 2012, a burly guy walked into the Modern Nails Salon in Casper and offered to sell diamonds to an employee working the front desk. He got upset when the employee told him to leave. 

The man reached into his jacket and started to pull out a “silver pistol,” according to witnesses.

What could have been a disaster turned calm when one of the gals getting her nails done showed the man that she had a gun, too, and it was ready. 

The man fled. And another Wyoming gun legend was born. 

Some More Gun Stories

• A few winters ago, a Riverton woman was shot in the leg while shoveling her front walk. 

Seems her pistol fell out of her shoulder holster as she bent over to scoop snow. The gun hit the ground and discharged. The .357 Magnum hollow point bullet went through the inside of her ankle and exited below the knee. The 24-year-old was treated at the Riverton hospital. 

• A few years ago, a 17-year-old Cheyenne girl was cited after she dropped her purse in a Starbucks and a pistol in the purse fired.  

She reportedly said: “I think my purse went off.”  The bullet missed John Basile by about 10 inches. Two police officers in the coffee shop at the time heard the shot and pulled their guns and scanned the shop. They found her double barrel .38 Derringer in her purse on the floor. The top barrel had fired. 

The girl’s father had given the teen the gun for protection while she was traveling. She told police she was on her way to Laramie to visit friends and that was why she was packing heat. 

The girl paid a $750 bond for violating a law about juveniles possessing firearms. Part of her punishment was the requirement to attend a gun safety class. Her name was withheld because she was a minor at the time. 

• My coffee group, the Fox News All-Stars meets down at the local Inn at Lander. One morning saw an example of the pride of gun ownership.  

We were passing around an assault rifle. It was bought back when Barack Obama had been elected and its owner feared it would no longer be available for purchase. 

Some months later, another of the group was showing off a Russian-made shotgun with a 20-shell magazine for rapid firing. Watch out birds?

• During a televised debate between Secretary of State Max Maxfield and challenger Mark Harris about 20 years ago, Harris showed up armed. He is always armed, he told me later.

Lately, former legislator Harris is in contention for longest hair of anyone he knows. Not sure why the long locks but I think it might be because of his admiration of American Indians. 

• A few years ago, my brother-in-law Dan Kinneman of Riverton was featured in Varmint Magazine for killing a prairie dog from a mile away. 

When we joked about it at the time, the punch line might have been the following: first prairie dog asks second prairie dog, have you seen Joe? Second one says he disappeared. “One moment he was here. Then poof, he was a gone.” 

Packing Heat

• Two of my best friends over the years always packed heat. But they carried small pistols in holsters in their boots. When I asked them why they did not wear their guns on their belts, both offered the same answer: “I am afraid that I might shoot my d**k off.”

• Steve Woody reminds that the Sheridan Press published a story in 2014 about a dog jumping into his master’s pickup and accidentally causing the man’s handgun to off, prompting the headline: “Dog Shoots Man.”

• When running for governor in 2002 I was constantly asked by people about my National Rifle Association (NRA) membership. These were strong, silent types of men, probably assuming I was going to give them the wrong answer. 

When I answered that, yes, I was an NRA member and that my wife says we own too many guns, it seemed to be the perfect retort. Everybody got happy then. 

• Some years ago, Riverton businessman was charged with a class three felony in Big Flats, New York after attempting to board a commercial airline flight with a loaded gun and two hunting knives in his carry-on luggage.

The charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree was lodged against Mike Rinehart, 53, owner of Diamond T Welding of Riverton and Boulder, Wyo. and Mansfield, Penn. 

• WyoFile’s Katie Klingsporn reported “a few years ago that it was a kind of muggy midsummer’s evening where school is the farthest thing from most people’s minds — a distant obligation that comes after the vacations, barbecues, and long days off. But in Lander, as more than 100 people filed into the high school auditorium for a meeting of the Fremont County School District #1 Board of Trustees, it was clear that the school system weighed heavily on the thoughts of this community. 

“One-by-one, people stepped forward to share their perspective on a proposed policy that would allow qualified, volunteer teachers and other district employees to carry concealed weapons in the district’s schools for the purpose of school safety. Nearly 60 people — parents, teachers, employees, retired law enforcement officers, even students — took turns at the microphone. 

“About 80% spoke in opposition, expressing a belief that the policy would only make schools more dangerous and imploring the board to at least slow down and take more time to study the matter and deliberate. 

“Others spoke in favor, saying school staffers can act as a crucial line of defense in the unlikely worst-case scenario of an armed intruder. At times, voices cracked with emotion.” The board voted to go ahead and arm teachers and staff.

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.