Bills Repealing Gun-Free Zones & Lowering Age Of Concealed Carry In Wyoming Reignite Familiar Debate

Wyoming legislators and advocates on both sides of the gun policy debate will cover familiar ground this legislative session with pending bills calling for the repeal of “gun-free zones” and lowering the legal age for concealed carry to 18.

Mark Heinz

February 15, 20245 min read

Capitol gun free zone 1 2 2 23
(Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Wyoming legislators and advocates on both sides of the gun policy debate will cover familiar ground this legislative session with pending bills calling for the repeal of “gun-free zones” and lowering the legal age for concealed carry to 18.

Loosening gun regulations is a bad idea, gun safety advocate Beth Howard of Cheyenne told Cowboy State Daily.

“I believe that some people think that their personal safety is benefitted by carrying a concealed firearm, but I don’t think it benefits the community’s safety,” Howard said Thursday.

She’s the Wyoming legislative lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Her group and others plan to push back against House Bill 125, which would repeal gun-free zones in Wyoming, and House Bill 122, which would lower the age for legal concealed carry from 21 to 18.

Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, is sponsoring both bills.

He told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that the issue is about consistent constitutional rights. In America, 18 is considered an adult on many levels, and one of those should be having full Second Amendment protections.

HB 125 passed introduction in the House and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. As of Thursday, the committee hadn’t brought it up for discussion.

HB 122 passed introduction in the House, but hadn’t been referred to a legislative committee as of early Thursday.

Guns Forbidden In Some Places

Howard said she doesn’t like either bill, but HB 125, repealing gun-free zones, “is the one I’m most concerned about at this point.”

Haroldson is sponsoring HB 125 and previously told Cowboy State Daily that Wyoming’s gun-free zones are “ludicrous” and violate people’s Second Amendment rights.

Wyoming has for years allowed residents age 21 and older to carry firearms – either openly or concealed – without a permit.

But state gun policy also allows business, school districts and other entities to forbid firearms on their premises. Gun-free zones in Wyoming include public school grounds, the University of Wyoming Campus and government buildings, such as the Wyoming Capitol.

Haroldson and others advocating for the elimination of gun-free zones argue that they do little more than create “soft targets” for criminals and mass shooters.

A similar measure he sponsored during last year’s session of the Wyoming Legislature died in the House Appropriations Committee.

That bill’s weak point was a failure to clarify the weapons policy for Wyoming’s jails and prisons, Haroldson said. But that’s been fixed, and the new bill clarifies that residents would still be forbidden to conceal-carry at correctional facilities.

This year’s bill would also allow teachers to carry concealed firearms in public schools.

More Guns Equals More Danger

Howard said increasing the number of guns in such places will only increase the danger – particularly if the people carrying them aren’t rigorously trained.

And most educators are against having guns in schools, she claimed.

“Those organizations have made it clear in the past, that is something they don’t want,” she said.

Moreover, Wyoming’s current policy regarding the carrying of firearms is fair and widely supported, Howard added. Businesses, schools and other entities should retain the right to decide for themselves whether they want to allow firearms.

“That isn’t something that the Legislature should force on them,” she said.

Haroldson on Thursday disputed the idea that an increased presence of firearms always increases the danger of violence.

“The statistics don’t line up,” he told Cowboy State Daily.

There have been numerous shootings in schools across the country that were deemed gun-free zones, whereas there haven’t been any at schools that were not, he said.

Wyoming school districts can decide whether they should allow trained school employees to carry concealed firearms, to defend students and themselves against potential attacks.

Firearms instructor Bill Tallen of Cody previously told Cowboy State Daily that his company offers tactical training for school employees in some Wyoming school districts that have opted to for armed staff.

Says Lowering Carry Age Is Bad Idea

Howard said lowering the concealed carry age requirement from 21 to 18 would only make an ongoing problem in Wyoming even worse.

“That would be teens with guns. Some of them have already got them, and it’s already a problem,” Howard said. “There are already people dying from guns in the hands of people in the 18-and-under age range, and they don’t belong there.”

She cited the April 2023 shootout in Cheyenne’s Lincoln Park that killed Baylee Carabajal-Clark, 15.

Johnny Angel Muñoz, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, was convicted of second-degree murder in that case.

18-Year-Olds Should Have Rights

Haroldson said even if the Wyoming statute at the time of that shooting had allowed for 18-year-olds to carry concealed firearms, the parties involved in the shootout here under 18, and still would have been armed illegally.

Regarding the wider intent of the bill, Haroldson said that the U.S. Supreme Court in 2023 ruled that 18-20-year-olds have the right to purchase and carry handguns. So he thinks that Wyoming’s policy should reflect the high court’s decision in that regard.

He added that 18-year-olds are treated as adults in many circumstances. They’re old enough to serve in the military and risk being wounded or killed in combat. Or, if they’re convicted of serious crimes they can be sent to prison, sometimes even for life.

So, it’s only fair that they should have full Second Amendment rights in Wyoming, Haroldson said.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter