Driskill Calls Effort To Revive Gun-Free Zone Bill "Absolutely Idiocy"

Wyoming Senate President Ogden Driskill said Tuesday’s move to override his ruling about reviving a bill to eliminate gun-free zones was “absolute idiocy” and the result of a “raw power struggle on the floor.” Sen. Dave Kinskey said it was nothing personal.

Leo Wolfson

March 05, 20245 min read

Wyoming Senate President Ogden Driskill said the Senate has devolved into a "raw power struggle" between some members and his leadership.
Wyoming Senate President Ogden Driskill said the Senate has devolved into a "raw power struggle" between some members and his leadership. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Although Senate President Ogden Driskill narrowly avoided being overruled by the members of his own chamber Monday night, he wasn’t able to avoid the same fate Tuesday when the Wyoming Senate twice voted 16-15 to suspend its own rules to resurrect a bill that eliminates gun-free zones.

The Senate voted for a simple majority vote on both measures, despite Driskill ruling that a two-thirds majority would be required, then brought the bill back directly to the Senate.

The bill in question was House Bill 125, legislation that gets rid of the state’s gun-free zones. The Senate Judiciary Committee killed the legislation on a 3-2 vote late Monday night.

Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, said Tuesday’s effort to revive it was focused on HB 125, a bill he said has been years in the making, and not an act of defiance against Driskill’s leadership.

“It’s nothing personal, it’s not that personal,” Kinskey said of the Tuesday effort to overturn. “It’s about a bill that is critical to the protection of our Second Amendment rights.”

‘Absolute Idiocy’

The overturn took place less than 24 hours after another highly contentious vote Monday, when the Senate voted 15-15 to support Driskill’s move to set up a new committee for the biennial budget negotiations.

Driskill called suspending the two-thirds rule Tuesday “absolute idiocy” and the result of a “raw power struggle on the floor.”

“This is an embarrassment, folks, and you’re participating in it. It pains me to no end to talk to you this way,” Drsikill said. “Is there going to be any rulings that come out of that chair that don’t get appealed?”

He also warned the Senate against setting a precedent for endless challenges and questioning of leadership, and said he wasn’t sure if he had made a single decision this session that hadn’t been challenged by a member of the chamber.

Kinskey brought the motion to overturn Driskill and the Rules Committee that a two-thirds vote would be needed to recall the bill, saying that votes like these had taken place through a simple majority in the past and that the rules dictate a simple majority vote for these situations.

He was removed from his role on the Joint Conference Committee for negotiating the budget Monday and was removed by Driskill as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee last year. The Senate voted to reappoint Kinskey on the first day of the 2024 session.

He brushed aside Driskill’s concerns as “just politics.”

“There may have been a day and an age when there was a genteel tradition, when people drank their tea with their pinkies out and everything was according to Hoyle,” he said. “What we’ve seen over the last several years is the rough and tumble of politics. That’s all it is, the hurley burley.”

Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, argued that to respect the work and decision of committees, a two-thirds vote needs to take place. He argued that the Senate has become more responsive to outside pressures than respecting their own institution and doing what’s best for the body.

“A committee action is part of our process and we cannot ignore it,” he said.

There were a number of attempts made during the 2023 legislative session to override House Speaker Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, to pull bills from his drawer, and four more made Tuesday, but none of these efforts were successful.


Sen. Fred Baldwin, R-Kemmerer, said Tuesday’s action sets a bad precedent for the Senate.

“I think it’s a very bad precedent because this means, does committee work really mean anything?” he questioned. “I think it does, but apparently the majority of the body doesn’t think so.”

Although he doesn’t believe what happened Tuesday should become a regular occurrence in the Senate, Sen. John Kolb, R-Rock Springs, disagreed with Baldwin, seeing it as an effort focused on the legislation at hand. He doesn’t believe gun-free zones are effective and that concealed carry should be allowed on public school grounds.

“The bill died a death in Judiciary yesterday and this is just a way to bring it back and have a floor discussion because it’s probably one of the biggest gun bills that has come about in a long time,” he said. “It’s really a big thing.

Second Amendment advocates also spoke in favor of the decision Tuesday.

“Criminals and madmen don’t obey gun-free zone signs,” said Mark Jones, a representative of Gun Owners of America. “Gun Owners of America worked hard to educate senators about the legislation to repeal gun-free zones in Wyoming and we are excited that the Senate voted to bring this critical Second Amendment bill to the floor for discussion.”

Beth Howard, a volunteer with the Wyoming chapter of gun control group Moms Demand Action, spoke against reviving the bill and said her group will continue to oppose the “dangerous legislation that seeks to flood our communities with guns.”

“This is reckless and shameful,” she said. “In a session that was vowed to focus on the budget and fiscal state of the state, our lawmakers are diverting into dangerous attempts to further weaken our gun laws- breaking their own rules to put us in more danger.”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at leo@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter