Gordon Vetoes Bill To Repeal Gun-Free Zones In Wyoming

Gun rights advocates were furious after hearing that Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed a bill late Friday that would have repealed Wyoming’s gun-free zones. “Gordon broke a written campaign promise that he made to gun owners. Gordon is a liar,” a Wyoming Gun Owners spokesman said.

Mark Heinz

March 23, 20245 min read

"Mark Gordon is a liar," said Wyoming Gun Owners policy director Aaron Dorr (right) after Gov. Mark Gordon (left) vetoed House Bill 125
"Mark Gordon is a liar," said Wyoming Gun Owners policy director Aaron Dorr (right) after Gov. Mark Gordon (left) vetoed House Bill 125 (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Wyoming’s gun-free zones will remain in place, at least for now, as Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed a bill that would have repealed them. 

Word reached Cowboy State Daily at about 8:45 p.m. from sources that had been closely watching the bill’s fate that Gordon had vetoed House Bill 125. Gordon had until midnight to either sign the bill, veto it or let it pass into law without his signature.

Sponsored by Rep. Jeremey Haroldson, R-Wheatland, the measure passed the Wyoming House by a large margin, but then died in the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. But it was revived the next day on the Senate floor, and went on the also pass the Senate by a wide margin. 

Haroldson told Cowboy State Daily that he won’t give up trying to repeal gun-free zones in Wyoming. 

“I will continue to run this legislation until it is the law,” he said. 

It’s About Local Control

In his veto letter, Gordon said he thought the measure would have eroded local control over firearms regulations. 

“House Bill 125/Enrolled Act No. 49 erodes historic local control norms by giving sole authority to the Legislature to micromanage a constitutionally protected right,” Gordon wrote in his veto letter.

“Any further clarification of the law, if this bill were enacted, would augment the Legislature’s reach into local firearms regulation," he wrote.

If HB 125 would have become law, it would have required state facilities to get approval from the Legislature to even so much as “set policies as practical as proper weapon storage,” Gordon stated. 

The measure would have allowed people with concealed carry permits to carry concealed firearms in many locations where it’s now forbidden, such as public school grounds and the University of Wyoming campus. 

'Mark Gordon Is A Liar'

Wyoming gun rights advocates had strong reactions to Gordon’s veto.

"It is inconceivable that the governor chose to veto a bill that would have restored constitutional rights and given citizens an opportunity to protect themselves and their families,” Gun Owners of America spokesman Mark Jones of Buffalo told Cowboy State Daily.

“The bill passed both legislative chambers by a very wide margin, and I suspect 80% of the state supported this law. One has to question why a governor would veto legislation with that type of public support," Jones said.

Aaron Dorr, the policy director for Wyoming Gun Owners, said the veto amounted to Gordon ignoring a campaign promise he made in 2018 to sign a repeal of gun-free zones, should one reach his desk. 

“Tonight, Mark Gordon broke a written campaign promise that he made to gun owners when he first ran for governor by vetoing HB 125," Dorr said. "Mark Gordon is a liar."

“Citing local control is cheap, political theater. Wyoming has had a state preemption on firearms for over 30 years. It was put in place as a safeguard, ensuring that local governments were blocked from making Wyoming a patchwork of laws around the state,” he added. 

Dorr said he thinks Gordon’s decision takes away people’s ability to protect themselves. 

“By vetoing this legislation, Mark Gordon has continued the policies that leave law-abiding Wyomingites helpless should a madman attack one of these 'gun-free zones,’” he said. “Should that happen here in Wyoming, Mark Gordon will have blood on his hands.”

Gun Control Advocates Happy

Moms Demand Action member Beth Howard of Cheyenne told Cowboy State Daily she's pleased with Gordon’s decision.

“He did the right thing. And I think for all the right reasons he said, a lot of the points that we had already pointed out. That school districts had already made their own decisions on these things,” she said. 

Howard added that she wouldn’t be surprised if a similar bill is introduced in the future, as there have been numerous attempts to repeal gun-free zones.

However, she thought that working the bill during the Legislature’s 2024 budget session limited the discussion, which she hopes doesn’t happen again. 

“It would be better to have this discussion during the (legislative) interim, when it could involve all the constituents,” she said. 

As it was, HB 125 would have repealed gun-free zones “effective immediately,” which wouldn’t have given Wyoming’s law enforcement agencies, schools and other entities to time to readjust and ensure safety, she said. 

Opponents of HB 125, including Wyoming representatives of the Moms Demand Action gun safety group and Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, had made the same argument about the measure undermining local control. They also argued that allowing more guns in public spaces would make things more dangerous. 

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

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter