‘No-Brainer’: Bill To Restore Concealed Carry For Some Felons Passes Easily

A bill to restore the rights of non-violent felons to concealed firearms permits was described as “awesome” and a "no-brainer" by members of both parties in a Legislative committee that passed it Friday.

Mark Heinz

March 01, 20245 min read

State Reps. Ken Chester and Karlee Provenza, both D-Laramie.
State Reps. Ken Chester and Karlee Provenza, both D-Laramie. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

A bill that would restore the rights of nonviolent felons to concealed carry firearms permits cleared another hurdle Friday, as the Wyoming House Judiciary Committee voted to forward it to the House Floor.

Committee members Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, and Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, both used the word “awesome” in voicing their support for Senate File 73.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously on its third reading Tuesday. It passed the House Judiciary Committee 7-1 with 1 excused Friday, and was placed on the House’s general file.

The sole “nay” vote Friday came from committee member Rep. Ken Chestek, D-Laramie, who didn’t speak during discussion on the bill leading up to the vote.


The bill builds off last year’s Senate File 120, which re-established fundamental rights, including the right to own firearms, to people previously convicted of one-time, nonviolent felony offences under Wyoming law.

Under that measure, those people are allowed to legally possess firearms five years after the completion of any jail or prison sentence, probation and parole connected to their cases.

But it didn’t specify the right to apply for a concealed carry permit, which SF 73 also would restore.

One of SF 73’s sponsors, Sen. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, told the committee that under SF 120, 478 people have successfully applied to have their right to own firearms restored.

Provenza said she was glad to hear that.

“I just want to thank the senator for bringing this bill, and for Senate File 120 last year. Four hundred and seventy-eight people having their rights restored is awesome. And I look forward to supporting this bill as well,” she said.

Haroldson said it’s only logical that people who have regained their right to own firearms should also have the right to apply for a concealed carry permit.

“My view is this, if we’ve restored your rights, then you have your rights. And so this is a no-brainer,” he said. “This is definitely an awesome opportunity to say, ‘Yeah, we truly believe you have your rights back’. And here’s a way we can show that.”

Concealed Carry Valid In Other States

Concealed carry policy in Wyoming can be somewhat confusing.

Wyoming is a “constitutional carry” state. That means residents may carry firearms, either openly or concealed, without a permit.

That’s except in gun-free zones, such as public schools, where firearms are still forbidden.

Haroldson is sponsoring House Bill 125, which would eliminate Wyoming’s gun-free zones. That bill cleared the House on Tuesday. It passed introduction into the Senate on Wednesday and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Barlow on Friday told the House Judiciary Committee that nonviolent felons who had their rights restored can still constitutionally carry concealed.

However, many people still want to be able to apply for a concealed carry permit, Barlow said.

If HB 125 succeeds, concealed carry permits would be required in some locations, such as school grounds.

And Wyoming is also one of numerous states that has “reciprocity” on concealed carry permits, Barlow said. That means that a concealed carry permit issued by one state will be valid in the other states that have reciprocity agreements.

Wyoming resident James Lake told the committee he qualifies to have his firearms possession rights restored, and would also like to be able to get a concealed carry permit.

He was convicted decades ago on a Wyoming marijuana charge. He said he stared using marijuana to break his addiction to opioid painkillers, which stemmed from numerous surgeries after a motorcycle accident.

Lake told the committee that he remains disabled because of his injuries and would like get a permit to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense.

Unresolved Federal Matters

SF 73 allows for the restoration of rights lost to a felony conviction under Wyoming law, Barlow said.

But it doesn’t cover a restoration of rights for prior nonviolent federal felony offences, and neither did SF 120, he added.

In addition to the 478 people who successfully applied to have their rights restored under SF 120, there were numerous others whose applications were rejected, frequently because they had federal felonies on their records, Barlow said.

Only a governor’s pardon can restore the rights of somebody with a federal felony record, he said.

During previous testimony before a Senate committee regarding SF 73, Gun Owners of America spokesman Mark Jones of Buffalo told of a Wyoming couple that went through a harrowing raid on their home by federal agents.

The raid was prompted by a prior federal felony conviction, even though the man told agents he had a certificate from the governor showing that his firearms rights were restored, Jones said.

Jones said he doesn’t want any more Wyoming residents targeted by federal agents because of possible confusion over state-verses-federal convictions.

SF 73 will not resolve any possible discrepancies between state and federal rules, Barlow told the committee on Friday.

“There’s some ongoing discussions between the (Wyoming) Attorney General’s office and the U.S. Attorney General’s Office on how that’s being handled,” he said.

Mark Heinz can be reached at mark@cowboystatedaily.com.

Share this article



Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter