Each Wyoming School District Could Get $10,000 To Store Guns, Train Staff

A bill moved to the Wyoming House floor Monday would give school districts $10,000 each to safely store firearms in schools, and also help pay to train staff how to use them.

Mark Heinz

March 05, 20243 min read

Guns and teachers scaled jpg
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Wyoming school districts that want to store firearms in their schools and train staff how to use them would get $10,000 each to help pay for it under a bill moving through the state House.

The House’s Education Committee on Monday voted to forward Senate File 86 to the House floor. The committee also agreed to boost funding from $100,000 to $480,000 — enough to provide each Wyoming school district with $10,000.

Committee member Rep. Jerry Obermueller, R-Casper, balked at the funding hike.

He called the move “simply not responsible, given the deficit spending we’re already in on the House side.”

He and Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, cast the only votes against the bill.

Training Staff Lowers Liability Costs

The amendment to boost funding was suggested by committee member Rep. Ken Clouston, R-Gillette.

Gillette’s school district is one of five in Wyoming that have opted to train and arm some of its staff, Clouston told Cowboy State Daily.

He said he wanted to boost funding for SF 86 because, as Gillette schools learned, training and arming staff is an expensive undertaking.

Schools could use their share to help pay for “biometric safes” to store firearms in, he said, and those aren’t cheap.

Even the $10,000 each school district might get would only pay for a small portion of what the costs might be, Clouston said, but it could help them get started.

Having staff properly trained also greatly reduces the costs of liability insurance for armed staff program, he added.

It can cost as much as $25,000 to properly train armed school staff, firearms instructor Bill Tallen of Cody told the committee via Zoom.

Gun-Free Zones Repeal Won’t Change Things

Though not directly connected to House Bill 125, which would repeal gun-free zones in Wyoming schools, SF 86 is somewhat related to it, Clouston said.

Under current state statute, school districts may decide for themselves whether to have armed staff. But the staff members who opt to be armed must go through certified training.

HB 125 passed the House, and if it passes the Senate and is signed into law, the requirement for training would be negated with the elimination of gun-free zones. Only a Wyoming concealed carry permit would be required to carry a concealed firearm on school grounds.

However, the passage of HB 125 wouldn’t forbid districts from putting their staff through training, if they choose to do so, Clouston said.

And many probably will, he said. And a $10,000 incentive provided by SF 86 might encourage them, because some school districts might have found it “cost prohibitive” before.

During his testimony to the committee, Tallen agreed that regardless of whether gun-free zones are appealed, SF 86 is a good idea.

“Senate File 86 is still pertinent and provides tremendous support for school security in the state,” he said.

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

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter