House Votes To Eliminate Wyoming’s Gun-Free Zones

A bill that would eliminate gun-free zones in Wyoming schools and some other public places was passed by the state House by a wide margin Tuesday.

Mark Heinz

February 28, 20243 min read

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

Wyoming is one step closer to eliminating gun-free zones at its schools and some other public places with the state House passing House Bill 125 on Tuesday.

The bill made it through its third reading before the House, with a vote of 54-7 and one absent. It also remained mostly intact, its sponsor Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, told Cowboy State Daily.

He said he’s optimistic about the bill’s chances of making it through the Senate.

“I think we’ve been waiting for a lot of years for this conversation to take place, and I think people are ready to have it,” he said.

Different Reactions

Some were happy about the bill’s passage, while others were disappointed.

Making it out of the House represents a victory for the Second Amendment and school safety, Gun Owners of America spokesman Mark Jones of Buffalo told Cowboy State Daily.

“I don’t think anybody ever expected it to pass in the form it is now, which is pretty much intact,” he said.

There were numerous failed attempts at “weakening amendments” during its journey through the house, Jones said.

Those mostly would have left the decisions over whether to ban firearms on school grounds up to school districts, he said. The GOA would have considered that “unconstitutional.”

Erika Cole of Cheyenne, the volunteer chapter lead for the Wyoming Moms Demand Action gun safety group, took a different view.

She said HB 125 was being “rushed through a budget session” without full consideration of its implications.

Her group opposes the “stripping of the ability of institutions to regulate firearms” on their property, she said.

“We’re going to keep opposing it and keep doing whatever we can to stop this bill,” Cole said.

During debate on the House floor, Rep. Ken Chestek, D-Laramie, expressed similar sentiments, saying that he doesn’t think HB 125 will make Wyoming schools safer.

Backers of the bill have claimed that most mass shootings take place in gun-free zones, he said.

However, one study shows that in 158 mass shootings between 2009 and 2016, only 10% took place in gun-free zones, Chestek said.

No Brandishing Guns In The Capitol

The bill underwent some adjustments that Haroldson said made sense. Those included exemptions for mental health institutions, where firearms could still be restricted.

There was also a provision that would allow for only concealed carry of firearms inside government buildings, such as the Wyoming Capitol, Haroldson said.

That was added to ease concerns over openly carried firearms being used as a means of political intimidation, a worry expressed by Rep. Art Washut, R-Casper during discussion on the Housse floor.

“You can imagine being down here on the floor debating some contentious issue while there’s a bunch of people up here in the gallery standing at port arms with long guns. I don’t think that’s really about self-defense. The open carry of firearms in some circumstances may be about political intimidation rather than self-defense,” he said.

Likewise, only concealed carry would be allowed on school grounds, Haroldson said. Allowing the open carry of firearms in such places would violate federal firearms statues.

There could also be exemptions allowing for the restriction of firearms in such instances as University of Wyoming sporting events where alcohol is served, Haroldson said.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter