Will Gordon Sign Or Veto Bill Eliminating Wyoming’s Gun-Free Zones?

A bill that would eliminate Wyoming’s gun-free zones is on Gov. Mark Gordon’s desk. Opinions in the Legislature are mixed on whether he’ll sign it, veto it or simply let it pass into law without a signature.

Mark Heinz

March 09, 20245 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

After passing both chambers of the Wyoming Legislature by huge margins, a bill to eliminate the state’s gun-free zones sat on Gov. Mark Gordon’s desk Friday.

But whether Gordon will sign it, veto it, or simply let it pass into law without his signature could be anybody’s guess, some state legislators told Cowboy State Daily.

Gordon’s office remained noncommittal Friday about the bill.

“I can’t speak for the governor’s intentions with regard to this bill,” Micheal Pearlman, spokesman for Gordon’s office, told Cowboy State Daily. “The governor will consider that bill carefully, as he does all legislation once it reaches his desk.”

Haroldson Hopeful

The primary sponsor of House Bill 125, Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, is hopeful Gordon will sign the bill.

“I think obviously at this point, this is a conversation that’s been decades in the works. And this is the first time it’s made it to his (Gordon’s) desk,” Haroldson said.

Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, was one of the bill’s most vocal doubters during its journey through the Legislature. But he said it has a good chance of becoming law one way or the other, even though an exact prediction was difficult to make.

“I anticipate that the bill will become law,” he said. “I think it will become law. I wouldn’t want to conjecture on that. I just don’t know. I’ve not heard any rumblings or anything, so I can’t speak to that.”

Is The Public For Or Against?

As HB 125 made its way through legislative committees, many Wyoming residents turned up to offer passionate testimony in favor of and in opposition to eliminating gun-free zones.

Detractors of the bill claimed that allowing guns in certain spaces, such as public schools or college dormitories, would just lead to trouble, and possibly tragedy.

Supporters told legislators that eliminating gun-free zones would uphold Second Amendment rights and allow people the means to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Haroldson and Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie — who harshly criticized HB 125 during senate floor debates — both said they think the public is on their side.

Haroldson said Gordon was likely hearing from many who want to see gun-free zones eliminated.

“Every single moment, phone calls are piling in to his office telling the governor that this is what the people of Wyoming want,” he said.

Rothfuss said he expected that Gordon was getting many calls and messages from people urging him to veto the bill.

“I’m not sure what he (Gordon) will do. I hope he listens to the public sentiment that this bill goes too far,” Rothfuss said.

He said there are many people in Wyoming “who aren’t comfortable with someone carrying a gun into their kindergartener’s school or their college student’s classroom, and I hope Governor Gordon shares that concern.”

Bear, Brown Weigh In

Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, said he thought the odds were on Gordon refusing to sign the bill and just letting it pass into law.

“I don’t know if he will (sign HB 125), but I doubt it,” he said. “It will probably pass into law without a signature. If he vetoes, it sets up an ugly battle for anyone next year to push it through and be the first bill in line.”

Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette said his money’s on Gordon vetoing the bill.

“I do believe that he will veto the prohibition of gun-free zones in Wyoming. I harken back to the special session in 2021 when busloads of citizens came to the Capitol from all over the state to participate in the legislative process,” he said.

“Members of the Legislature were told that there was a ‘credible threat’ and that the governor’s offices were ‘locked down’ as a result,” Bear added. “That reminds me of the razor wire erected at our nation’s capitol at the same time. All that, to say that I believe the governor does not trust the hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens in Wyoming exercising their God-given rights to bear arms in his presence.”

A veto would be disappointing, because that would go against natural rights that transcend governmental authority, Bear said.

“According to both the Constitution and the Declaration (of Independence), our right to bear arms predates this very nation, and therefore, predates the state of Wyoming. Government cannot take away a right it cannot grant,” he said.

Back Again Next Year, If Need Be

Haroldson said if Gordon vetoes the bill, the effort to eliminate gun-free zones in Wyoming will continue undaunted.

“A veto at this point would just mean we’ll continue the conversation next year,” Haroldson said.

“He has every right in the world, if he decides to do that,” he said of the governor’s veto power. “But at the end of the day, this is what the people of Wyoming want, and he should represent the people.”

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

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter