Wyoming Watches As Colorado Is On Verge Of Passing Sweeping Gun Control Legislation

A leading gun advocate in Wyoming said the four gun control bills which could be passed in Colorado soon, could actually pay off for Wyoming as firearms and firearms accessory companies could move to the Cowboy State.

Mark Heinz

March 09, 20235 min read

Colorado gun protest AP 3 9 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

As the Colorado Legislature considers a host of new gun regulations – including a proposed “assault weapons” ban – two Wyomingites with differing views on gun control say such drastic measures remain unlikely here.

“There may be a lot of legislation to ban things in other states, but that’s not our focus in Wyoming,” Beth Howard of Cheyenne, a spokeswoman for the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, told Cowboy State Daily.

Wyoming has “one of the highest suicide rates in the country. We’re tying to save lives,” she said. 

Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, a gun rights advocate, takes a dim view of Colorado’s proposed legislation.

“None of them (the gun control bills) are good,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “But the worst is one placing liability on manufacturers for third-party crimes, which, in my opinion, is absolutely reckless.”

Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Four-Pack And A Ban

Haroldson was referring to part of four-bill gun control package being considered by the Colorado Legislature. It includes: 

• A three-day waiting period for firearms purchases.

• Increasing the legal age to buy a gun from 18 to 21.

• Expanding a “red flag law” regarding who can ask a court to temporarily remove someone’s guns under a protection order.

• Making it easier to sue firearm manufacturers for liability in murders and mass killings. 

A proposed assault weapons ban was introduced later, the National Rifle Association reported.

Regarding the liability measure, Haroldson said “that would be like somebody suing Chevy if I took my truck and drove it through a shopping mall. That wouldn’t be Chevy’s fault, that would be mine.”

Howard said she likes the idea of expanding “red-flag” measures.

“We know that red-flag laws in other states do save lives,” she said. “With such measures we can, legally, remove firearms from people who are a threat to themselves or others. It’s a legal process, you can’t just do it on a grudge.”

However, Haroldson said he doesn’t like red-flag laws or expanded waiting periods, which he considers pointless.

“You either pass your background check or you don’t,” he said of checks made at the time of purchase.

How It Could Affect Wyoming

Neither Haroldson or Howard expects any bans, for assault weapons or otherwise, in Wyoming anytime soon. 

Howard said she is more concerned about how other neighboring states, such as Idaho, continue to loosen gun regulations.

“Idaho is trying to make it legal for militias to march with guns in the streets,” she said. “It’s not just about looking to the south. That’s what people tend to fear, is that the Colorado laws are going to come here, whereas maybe we should fear the Idaho laws coming here.”

Haroldson said that making it easier to sue manufacturers and implementing an assault weapons ban in Colorado could actually pay off for Wyoming.

Some firearms or firearms accessories companies, such a Magpul, have already pulled stakes from Colorado and moved to Wyoming, he said. Making companies more vulnerable to lawsuits could increase that trend. 

And an assault weapons ban could hurt business at a large shooting complex near Grand Junction, Colorado, he added. That facility is set up to host shooting competitions that can draw thousands of well-heeled participants. 

“Three-gun” shooting matches are particularly popular, he said. Those involve shooters competing with handguns, shotguns and AR-15s – the latter of which would be classified as “assault weapons” under Colorado’s proposed ban.

However, with Wyoming set to build a $10 million shooting sports complex within the next few years, that could mean more competitors, and their money, coming here, Haroldson said.

Different States, Different Populations

Colorado has different concerns than Wyoming, primarily because of its large urban population, Howard said.

“Colorado is dealing with urban gun issues and rural gun issues. In Wyoming, we’re dealing with rural gun issues,” the biggest of which is suicide, she said. 

She added that she understands why Colorado might want tighter gun restrictions than Wyoming could ever accept. 

“There have been many horrific incidents of mass shootings in Colorado, and that’s aside from any kind of everyday gun violence they have in the cities,” she said. 

Colorado has been rocked by numerous high-profile mass killings, starting with the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School that left 15 dead and 24 wounded. Most recently, a December shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs killed five and hurt 17.

Haroldson said Wyomingites should keep a cautious eye on what’s happening in Colorado. 

“My issue is, how can a state like Colorado, which even 15 years ago had a conservative logic toward gun regulation, get to the place where it is now?” he said.

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter