Closing Gun Loophole Would Protect Wyoming From Colorado-Style Regulation ‘Patchwork’

A bill that would preempt local gun control measures that go against state standards in Wyoming would prevent a patchwork of regulations, such as Colorado has.

Mark Heinz

February 24, 20233 min read

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Firearms regulations are another way in which Wyoming doesn’t want to be like Colorado. 

That’s “because we don’t want towns running around passing gun control, like in Colorado,” Gun Owners of America lobbyist Mark Jones told Cowboy State Daily. “Colorado has a patchwork (of regulations). If you’re a concealed carry holder and you travel, you’ve got to be careful there.”

Bill Doing Well So Far

Jones was referencing Senate File 148, which would preempt any local firearms regulations that contradict Wyoming statute.  

It’s done well so far. The Wyoming Senate passed it by a vote of 30-1 on Feb. 8. It passed its second of three readings before the Wyoming House on Wednesday. 

“I think it will pass,” Jones said. “If it doesn’t pass, a municipality could feasibly implement their own gun control, as long as they exempt firearms manufactured in Wyoming.”

Clearing Up Confusion

SF 148 clears up an oversight that’s created some confusion over gun policy in Wyoming, Jones said, adding that Wyoming has long had a “preemption statute.” 

That means gun rights policy set by the state preempts those proposed by a municipality or other localized but essentially entity, such as the University of Wyoming campus, he said. Private property owners and privately owned businesses still retain the right to restrict guns as they see fit on their premises. 

The Wyoming Freedom of Firearms Act was passed in 2010. That protects Wyoming gun or gun accessory manufactures from undue federal regulations, Jones said.

However, for undetermined reasons, the preemption statue wasn’t properly referenced in the Freedom of Firearms Act, Jones said. So technically, a municipality or other entity can pass its own additional gun restrictions – they just wouldn’t apply to guns made in Wyoming.

And since outside of a few custom firearm makers, firearms manufacturers are based outside of Wyoming, those local gun restrictions would apply nearly all commonly owned firearms. 

SF 148 fixes that, making it clear that the preemption statue applies to all firearms, not just those made in Wyoming, Jones said. 

“It wasn’t intentional,” he said. “But clearing it up is important. I don’t this the average Wyoming gun owner realizes just how important.”

UW Case An Example

SF 148 was prompted in part by a challenge to UW’s prohibition against carrying firearms on campus, Jones said. 

In 2018, Lyle Williams of Unita County was ticketed for open-carrying a firearm in the university’s convention center during the state Republican party’s annual conference. 

That citation was challenged on the grounds that both open and concealed carry are allowed by state statute in Wyoming. But in 2020, Albany County District Court Judge Tori Kricken ruled in the university’s favor.

In her decision, Kricken cited the fact that the preemption statute as cited in the Freedom of Firearms Act applies only to guns made in Wyoming, Jones said. 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter