Tag archive

guns

Wyoming Gun Owners Praise Supreme Court Gun Ruling

in Guns/News
21364

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two Wyoming organizations had completely opposite reactions to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that eased gun restrictions in New York, with one praising the move and another condemning it.

Meanwhile, a candidate for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat praised the Supreme Court for its ruling to overturn the New York law.

“I’ve been saying for years what Justice Thomas has just opined,” said state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, founder of Wyoming Gun Owners. “That special instructions cannot be imposed on a right.”

On Thursday, the six of the nine justices ruled that a New York law improperly put restrictions on the rights of its residents to carry firearms in public for self-defense by requiring them to prove they have a special need for a firearm.

“The exercise of other constitutional rights does not require individuals to demonstrate to government officers some special need,” said a summary of the ruling written by Justice Clarence Thomas. “The Second Amendment right to carry arms in public for self-defense is no different.”

Mark Jones, Gun Owners of America’s national director of hunter’s programs, told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that his organization was thrilled about the ruling. However, he said it was sad that the justices even had to consider the case.

“We feel like they got it right,” Jones said. “To me, it was a question of whether or not that individual right extended to outside of the home. But it’s nice to see the Supreme Court do the right thing and uphold what most Americans would consider a common sense idea.”

The ruling overturns a New York law that required people who want to be licensed to carry a concealed weapon outside of their homes to prove they have “proper cause” to do so.

The lawsuit brought by two New York residents against the superintendent of the New York State Police challenged the law as a violation of both the Second and 14th Amendments.

Thomas, in the court’s majority opinion, said New York’s law treats law-abiding citizens within the state differently than citizens are treated in other states in violation of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee to equal treatment under the law.

Thomas noted that only six states impose such a requirement on those who wish to carry firearms.

“In 43 States, the government issues licenses to carry based on objective criteria,” he wrote. “But in six States, including New York, the government further conditions issuance of a license to carry on a citizen’s showing of some additional special need. Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution.”

Since Wyoming is such a gun-friendly state, Jones said he did not expect the ruling would have much statewide impact, but he did think it might have an effect on the U.S. Senate, which is currently debating gun control legislation.

The proposed federal legislation comes in response to a series of mass shooting events in recent months that killed dozens.

President Joe Biden said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court ruling, saying that it “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.”

Also opposing the ruling was the Wyoming chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America.

“As our gun violence crisis gets even worse, SCOTUS has decided to cave to the gun lobby’s extreme agenda and make it harder for states and cities to protect public safety,” the organization said on social media Thursday. “The fact that the Court ruled against New York makes it clear that it chose to put lives at risk and showed indifference to public safety.”

Bouchard, meanwhile, said he was pleased to see the court leaning away from conditional application of the Second Amendment, noting he was involved with the effort in Wyoming to do away with a requirement that residents obtain a permit to carry concealed weapons.

“Now there are 25 states doing the same,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “I’m pleased the Supreme Court has aligned with the protections in the constitution.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Legislators Blast Each Other Over Gun Letter; “How Ridiculously Stupid,” One Lawmaker Says

in Guns/News
21275

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

A recent letter crafted by Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne and Bob Wharff, R-Evanston, urging U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso to oppose upcoming gun legislation has drawn a strong rebuke from Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs.

“There is not even any draft bill out there yet but the authors are imputing some nefarious motive and intent,” Hicks wrote. “The construct of the letter with capitalized letters is both dictatorial and demanding showing a complete lack of respect and decorum for our U.S. Senators.”

Bouchard and Wharff on June 17 sent the letter to Lummis and Barrasso questioning their commitment to Second Amendment protections. A separate letter authored by Wyoming’s House Freedom Caucus asked the two to oppose pending federal gun control legislation.

“Poorly Orchestrated”

In a response to Rep. Troy McKeown, R-Gillette, who was encouraging support for Bouchard’s letter, Hicks criticized the blunt tone taken Wharff and Bouchard and described their letter as an opportunistic effort to curry votes for their upcoming elections. 

“It (is) nothing more than a poorly orchestrated attempt by the two individuals to buoy up their own political support by not letting a crises going to waste (right out of the Obama administration manual of public deception),” Hicks wrote. “If this was sincere it would have not had their names at the top in order to grandstand.”

The other letter crafted by the House Freedom Caucus to Wyoming’s U.S. senators placed the signatures of the 12 Wyoming legislators supporting it at the letter’s end.

Bouchard responded to Hicks letter on Facebook Wednesday morning, saying Hicks has blocked attempts by others to promote conservative causes.

“The few of us that try to move the ball for conservatives can’t get anything done because of people like you,” Bouchard said to Hicks, referring to him as a member of the “swamp” and “cabal.”
Bouchard said “sooner or later” the voters will discover Hicks’ voting record.

Formal Complaint

Wharff said he was offended by Hicks accusations and is considering filing a formal complaint on the matter. 

“He acts like he’s always played nice,” Wharff said, “like he’s never done anything to me.”

Wharff and Bouchard started their letter by questioning Lummis’ and Barrasso’s stance on gun control, citing reports from “various media outlets that you are supportive of the draconian gun control measures, including red flag gun confiscation being fast tracked through Congress right now.” 

Red flag laws allow friends, relatives and police to recommend to a court that a person’s firearms be confiscated.

Later in the letter, concern about Barrasso’s stance is also expressed because he was standing next to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, when he proclaimed support for the gun control measures headed to the Senate.

But Hicks maintained that Lummis and Barrasso are staunch supporters of the Second Amendment who respond to constituent questions about their positions.

“How Ridiculously Stupid”

“Sen. Lummis and Sen Barrasso will answer many of our direct calls and provide clear direction on their intent without impugning some stupid assumption based on a media outlet,” Hicks wrote. “Also how ridiculously stupid is it of the authors to impute some motive by Senator Barrasso standing next to Senator McConnell.”

In his email, McKeown had urged Republican legislators to come together and put aside past divisions for the sake of Second Amendment rights. 

Hicks said he supports fighting for the Second Amendment but can’t get behind the letter written by Bouchard and Wharff.

“Those two individuals have never demonstrated the ability to do what you are asking of the rest of us now,” he wrote.

“Double-Crossed”

Wharff said he has been double-crossed by Hicks in the past.

He mentioned one scenario in 2011 when Hicks pulled an amendment at the last moment and without warning Wharff had agreed to with former Sen. Eli Bebout, on an amendment being made to the Wyoming Constitution to grant residents perpetual rights to hunt, fish and trap.

“He’s not what he purports to be,” Wharff said.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Dueling Groups Of Legislators Demand Lummis, Barrasso Reject Gun Control Bill In Congress

in Guns/News
21273

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Some of Wyoming’s most conservative state legislators have sent two separate letters to U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, demanding they not support gun control legislation currently moving through Congress. 

The first of the letters was written by 12 members of the Wyoming House Freedom Caucus on June 10, while the second was spearheaded by Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and Rep. Robert Wharff, R-Evanston, and signed by a collection of senators and representatives one week later on June 17.

The timing and authorship of the two different letters has created a small rift among firearms rights advocates.

Mark Jones, national director of Gun Owners of America’s national director of hunter’s programs, said Bouchard is posturing as a strong Second Amendment supporter writing his own letter one week after the Freedom Caucus wrote its letter.

“Senator Bouchard is playing fast and loose with the truth,” Jones said.

Jones pointed to Bouchard’s repeated votes against the Second Amendment Protection Act in this year’s legislative session. 

Bouchard said he voted against the bill because it did not go far enough to protect firearms, but Jones said this is disingenuous and said he would give Bouchard a grade of “F” when it comes to his votes on the Second Amendment.

“He promotes himself as a Second Amendment champion,” Jones said. “He picks and chooses when he supports things.”

Bouchard and Jones are frequent foes in testifying on proposed firearms legislation in the Legislature.

Bouchard founded Second Amendment advocacy group Wyoming Gun Owners and is still on friendly terms with the organization. He was given a 100% grade for his votes by the National Rifle Association in 2020 but only a 68% grade by pro-gun group LEAP Forward that same year.

Bouchard is running for U.S. Congress against Harriet Hageman, who Gun Owners of America has endorsed, and incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

Bouchard did not respond to a request for comment.

Wharff said Bouchard has an unquestionably strong record on Second Amendment issues and he, like Bouchard, did not vote for the SAPA because it was toothless.

“They knew damn good and well that bill would do nothing,” he said.

Wharff described Jones as a “nobody” and a “Johnny come lately” because he suspects someone recruited him to move to Wyoming.

He said Jones never spoke to him during the Legislature’s budget session and added he could not remember a time in the past when two pro-gun groups were in active opposition to each other in Wyoming.

Wharff said no one reached out to him about the first letter and he did not read it until after he signed the second one. He said he considered himself a member of the Freedom Caucus in the past, but now suspects he is being pushed out of the House group because he is running for the Senate.

Past Freedom Caucus members Reps. Dan Laursen, R-Powell and Bill Fortner, R-Gillette are also running for Senate and were also left off the original letter. Laursen and Fortner signed on to the second letter.

Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, said he and other members of the Freedom Caucus were annoyed because Bouchard and Wharff did reach out to get signatures from their group but many of these signatures were left off the second document. Wharff said this is not true and said no signatures sent in time were left off their letter.

Only one legislator – Rep. Scott Heiner, R-Green River – is listed on both letters.

Jones said Wyoming’s Freedom Caucus led the country as the first group of state legislators to oppose the federal gun control legislation that passed through the U.S. House on June 8. He said similar-minded caucuses in Pennsylvania and Texas followed suit with their own efforts after the Freedom Caucus letter was written.

“It was used as an example of liberty and freedom,” Jones said. “It was used as an example all across America.”

The two letters are similar in their purpose and overall message. Both oppose red flag laws — under which a relative, friend or police officer can recommend that a court remove a person’s firearms — and any gun control measures.

The proposed federal legislation comes in response to a series of mass shooting events in recent months that killed dozens of people.

In its letter, the Freedom Caucus focuses on school security steps that could be taken to prevent such atrocities. The letter points to a Wyoming law that allows school districts to decide if they will allow their teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom as a solution that could be brought to a national level.

“It is clear from our country’s history that those who will obey the laws of this land will do so while armed,” the letter said. “Yet, those who will perpetrate evil, will do so with or without arms and when the prior are the armed, the latter are the meeker.”

Bouchard and Wharff’s letter addresses Barrasso and Lummis more directly, immediately questioning their loyalty to opposing gun control.

“It is being reported by various media outlets that you are supportive of the draconian gun control measures, including red flag gun confiscation being fast tracked through Congress right now,” the letter says.

This is a reference to a June 7 CNN story that appeared to show U.S. Lummis having a change of heart on some gun control measures. Her spokesperson, Abegail Cave, said her positions have not shifted.

“She is a strong defender of the Second Amendment, and will always defend the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms,” Cave said.

Lummis was categorized as giving new consideration to the package of bills that could include changes to red flag laws, mental health programs, school security and juvenile background checks because of an uptick in calls made to her office. 

“That’s something that I’d be inclined to want to look at,” CNN reported Lummis saying. “So many juvenile records seem to be expunged and the clock is set back to zero the day they turn 18. So I think that is something worth considering shortly.”

Bouchard’s letter also questions Barrasso’s loyalty by mentioning he was standing next to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, when he proclaimed support for the gun control measures headed to the Senate.

Jennings said he has not heard back from either senator on the topic. Wharff said he had some encouraging initial conversations with Barrasso but was disturbed when he later saw him standing by McConnell when he made his statement.

“That was very troubling to me, to see a senator I have nothing but respect for standing behind the leader of the senate,” Wharff said. “That’s a show of support.”

Wharff said he spoke with a member of Lummis’ staff but not the senator herself. He said he worries this conversation led to a conflation of red flag laws with mental health issues and said he kept mental health out of the second letter to avoid confusion.

Neither letter mentions addressing mental health issues, but Wharff said he is a firm supporter of mental health and believes a failure to handle these types of issues is part of what leads to mass shooting events.

Neither Barrasso or Lummis were part of a group of 20 senators — half Republicans, half Democrats — who announced they have reached an agreement on the outlines of what would be the first federal gun-control bill in more than 25 years. Among its provisions, the legislation would increase federal funding for school security and create a federal grant program to entice states into adopting “red-flag” laws — laws that would allow guns and ammunition to be kept “out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others.”

Bouchard’s letter focuses on these red flag laws. 

“If this measure comes to fruition, a vote for it will directly enable the spread of confiscation laws throughout the country and further normalize support for the eventual disarmament of this nation,” the letter said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Barrasso issued a firm statement about his position on red flag laws.

“While we must find a better way to identify troubled individuals early, we need to ensure the rights of law-abiding Americans are protected.,” Barrasso said. “I do not support federal red flag legislation and do not believe the federal government has a role in such laws. I will continue to oppose legislation that jeopardizes the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.”

Jennings said Second Amendment rights have improved over the past two decades and said he is firmly against any gun control legislation, including background checks and removal of the gun show loophole in Wyoming.

 “I don’t see that as very valid to push that forward,” he said.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense Say They Want ‘Gun Safety’ Not Control

in Guns/News
20589

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Beth Howard is trying to change what she believes are misconceptions about the difference between gun safety and gun control in Wyoming.

“We don’t want to take your guns,” Howard said. “We want to advocate for the people who have guns. There should be some level of safety for the public in knowing those who have guns, should have them.” 

Howard is the Wyoming legislative lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a national organization that promotes itself as a gun safety, not gun control organization. 

“We’re not opposing the Second Amendment in any way, we’re just advocating for safety,” Howard said. “Using the word gun control has a chilling effect.”

In the conservative state of Wyoming, getting this message across can often be a challenge, Howard said. But she also said her group has made strides working with many Republican lawmakers on legislation. The GOP holds a clear majority in the legislature. 

“I don’t know that they’d say they’re working with us but we do consider ourselves to be working with them because we know that’s the only way they’ll (bills) pass or fail,” Howard said with a chuckle. “By having Republican support.” 

“Gun Safety”

The term ‘gun safety’ may carry a different definition depending on who you talk to.

Howard remembered one conversation she had with a state senator who told her gun safety represented the right to keep a loaded firearm on their kitchen table.

Contrastly, others like her, consider gun safety to represent protecting the public from gun-related harm.

The Moms Demand Action Wyoming chapter has been active since 2008, with a statewide volunteer crew.

One of the group’s biggest opponents has been Second Amendment lobbying group Wyoming Gun Owners.

Aaron Dorr, director of WyGO, described Moms Demand Action as “a group of bitter, self-loathing leftists who want to disarm every gun owner in the country.”

“Real moms love their kids and are ready and willing to protect them from criminals,” he said.

Background Checks

In 2021, the Mothers Demand Action helped defeat WyGO’s Second Amendment Preservation Act and two bills that would have allowed people to bring lawsuits against law enforcement agencies and officers for enforcing federal gun regulations.  

These were bills the mothers group considered “dangerous gun bills.”

This past year, WyGO’s Second Amendment Preservation Act, two bills that would have allowed people to bring lawsuits against made law enforcement agencies and officers vulnerable to lawsuits for enforcing federal gun regulations, also did not pass.

“I’m seeing more success both locally and nationally,” Howard said, adding she has seen more delineation in the media between gun control and gun safety.

Enacting universal background checks is a high priority for Moms Demand Action in Wyoming. According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans support universal background checks and the vast amount of Americans also support the right of private citizens to own guns.

Still, pro-gun and Second Amendment groups have railed against efforts to pass universal background check laws, many using the ‘slippery slope’ argument that they will lead to more restrictions down the road.

“It’s my opinion they feel any gun safety law is an infringement on their Second Amendment rights and will lead to confiscation of weapons, even though there’s no evidence that one thing automatically leads to the other,” Howard said. 

Currently, people can circumnavigate even the most basic background checks in Wyoming by purchasing firearms at gun shows.   This “gunshow loophole” argument used by those favoring gun control carries a lot of heated baggage.  I would at least have Howard saying it.

“You don’t know who’s buying those weapons,” Howard said.

Background Checks Don’t Work

WyGO opposes universal background checks of any kind.

“WyGO has always opposed ‘universal background checks’ because gun owners should never have to be tracked, traced and registered like a sex offender to exercise our God-given constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms,” Dorr said. 

In 2019, a “Fix NICS” bill came before the state legislature that would have prevented only some people with mental illnesses from buying guns. Howard sees preventing the mentally ill from buying firearms as the top priority for all gun safety legislation.   

Not only did the bill not pass, but two of the three Republicans who voted for it, Bill Pownall and Dan Kirkbride, lost in their 2020 reelection campaigns.

“That’s sort of a warning to people considering bringing gun safety bills forward,” Howard said.

Improving mental health has often been used as a solution by gun proponents to address mass shooting events and other gun-related deaths, as an alternative solution to enacting gun control measures.

“Regardless of how much money you say you’re going to spend on mental health, if you’re not actually reporting the information for who should not be buying those weapons, they are still likely to fall into the hands of those who should not be able to buy weapons,” Howard said. “If your state is not participating in that, you’re not providing the most basic protection to your citizens.”

The suspect in the recent Uvalde, Texas shooting legally bought the AR-style rifle he allegedly used in the attack. 

“Almost every mass shooting over the last decade was carried out by a madman who first passed a background check,” Dorr said. “These checks don’t stop criminals, they only register gun owners.”

Howard said her organization’s membership grows every time there is a mass shooting event, particularly those involving children.

“When these things keep happening over and over again and they happen more in our nation than anybody’s else’s nation, there is some change that’s needed,” she said. “People get it.” 

Arming Teachers

Many pro-gun advocates used the Uvalde shooting as ammunition for the push to arm teachers in schools. 

Under current Wyoming law, school districts can decide individually if they want to allow teachers to earn certification to carry arms in the classroom. Two Wyoming school districts currently allow this.

“If more guns were going to keep us safer, we would already be the safest nation in the world,” Howard said. “Instead, we have the most egregious record in all developed nations of gun homicides and mass shootings.”

Howard anticipates future legislation allowing conceal and carry use in gun-free zones and teachers statewide to decide whether they would like to arm themselves, two measures her group opposes.

“You will not find any evidence anywhere that more guns in more places is providing safety,” Howard said.

According to Every Town, a gun safety organization that promotes safe storage of guns, 125 people die per year in Wyoming from guns. At a rate of 21.2 deaths per 100,000, Wyoming has the sixth highest gun fatality rate in the country. It also has the highest gun suicide rate in the country at 18 deaths per 100,000 and the highest overall suicide rate in the nation.

In a state with one of the highest suicide rates and where 86% of firearm deaths occur by suicide, she said change is sorely needed.

“I think being No. 1 for suicide, we have a responsibility to keep both children and adults safer,” Howard said. “Trying to keep people from getting their hands on a firearm unless they really need to use it for prevention, is gun safety, keeping unintended shootings from happening.”

This Friday is National Gun Violence Awareness and Prevention Day, and this weekend is Wear Orange Weekend, a two-day event promoting gun violence prevention and awareness.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Remains Divided Over Teachers Carrying Guns Debate

in Guns/News/Education
Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
20567

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

In the wake of the Uvalde elementary school shooting last week, discussion has again started about whether or not teachers should be allowed to carry guns on school campuses.

At least one parent and one state organization have told Cowboy State Daily they do not feel teachers carrying guns will make schools any safer, but these are not the only voices out there.

Wyoming allows local school boards to decide whether or not its teachers are allowed to carry guns and at least two districts in the state have allowed it: Park County School District No. 6 and Fremont County School District No. 1.

Fremont’s carrying policy has been in place for about three years, while Park’s was adopted in August 2020.

Due to confidentiality reasons, the amount of teachers who carry could not be shared, as well as any of their names.

Tim Foley, interim superintendent of PCSD6, did confirm to Cowboy State Daily that there were staff members who did participate, though.

Uinta County School District No. 1 attempted to adopt a gun carrying policy, but was sued by Tiffany Eskelsen-Maestas, a parent of two students in the district.

She told Cowboy State Daily there are other, better, methods that can create long-lasting change and prevent violence from happening in the first place, something she said a gun cannot do.

“There are various intervention and prevention methods that consider risk and protective factors and, if not evidence-based, are promising practices,” she said on Wednesday. “They are comprehensive while supporting the emotional and physical well-being of students and faculty, not only in relation to gun violence but other possible types of violence.”

She is a gun owner, but believes there is a time and place for them and school is not one of them.

She added it was especially prudent for school districts to focus on programming that reduces and prevents violence.

“I believe school districts should be basing their decision-making on research just as it is required of students to fully research an issue and use evidence to support their position in their classes,” Eskelson-Maestas said. “I think we can do better for the lifetime health of Wyoming students and faculty by implementing comprehensive evidence-based and promising practices that reduce and prevent this violence.”

Congressional candidate Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, heavily promoted concealed carrying on school campuses, saying it makes schools safer.

“The statistics reveal, that permit holders can be trusted, even more so than the police,” Bouchard said last week. “We should ignore the left coast gun control crowd, instead Wyoming should follow the lead of [Utah].”

He added that gun-free zones kill. There have been several attempts by the Wyoming Legislature to repeal gun-free zones in the state, but all have failed so far.

The Wyoming Education Association (WEA) does not support teachers carrying guns, according to its legislative platform.

“WEA believes that only trained law enforcement officers should be allowed to carry firearms and/or other weapons in schools or on school property,” its platform said. “The WEA does not support public education employees carrying firearms and/or other weapons due to the demonstrated threat to school safety should staff become overpowered, should weapons be accessed by students or should weapons in schools be accidentally discharged.”

WEA President Grady Hutcherson called on Wyoming lawmakers last week to prioritize state schools by providing adequate funding to school districts to better secure entrances and update facilities. He also called for more and better access to mental health services.

2019 study by researchers at the University of Toledo and Ball State University reviewed 18 years of school security measures, including placing more armed teachers in schools, and found no evidence of reduced gun violence, according to Vox.

Other states that allow school employees to carry guns include Idaho, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Gun Owners: Texas Shooting Shows Why Teachers Need To Be Armed

in Guns/News
20220

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Lawmakers and officials in Wyoming are eyeing different approaches to stopping mass shootings such as the one seen in Texas earlier this week.

While the group Wyoming Gun Owners issued a statement saying the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children dead shows why teachers in schools should be armed, a group advocating stronger gun control laws said it shows the need for more action to stop gun violence.

“Our children deserve more than thoughts and prayers from our elected leaders … to protect them from gun violence — in their schools and communities,” Mothers Demand Action wrote on its Wyoming Facebook page.

A lone gunman earlier this week stormed an elementary school in Uvalde, killing 19 students and two teachers and wounded many others before killing himself.

Aaron Dorr, policy advisor for Wyoming Gun Owners, said on Facebook the shooting is proof of the need for arming teachers in Wyoming. He added he has received death threats for taking the position.

“For every troll sending me death threats on social media, keep ‘em coming,” he said. “Just motivating me to work harder to stop your agenda.”

The Wyoming Democratic Party, meanwhile, called for more leadership by government officials to protect children in schools.

“(The) tragedy is sickening and heartbreaking beyond words,” the party posted on Facebook. “We need leaders who will put a stop to the wanton murder of our nation’s school children.”

At the federal level, the shooting has spurred debate over the proposed Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which is designed to help prevent mass shootings by providing for additional surveillance and investigation of domestic terrorism threats, including white supremacist and fringe groups.

The teenager in the Texas shooting, however, gave very little warning of what he planned and had no ties to any terrorist or white supremacist groups.

The act has been approved by the U.S. House, but did not collect enough votes in the Senate to be considered in a vote Thursday.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis weighed in on the effort to have the bill considered in the Senate, attacking Senate Democrats on Twitter on Friday for their efforts.

“Instead of honoring our service members as we head into the Memorial Day weekend, Senate Democrats tried to pass a bill that accuses our military and federal law enforcement of being white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This is shameful,” she said.

The bill’s proponents say it is designed specifically to eliminate white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups by encouraging collaboration between federal agencies investigating and monitoring the groups.

Her tweet drew a sizable response on Twitter, with many calling her post disingenuous and false.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Gun Sales Falling Back To Pre-Pandemic Levels

in Guns/News
19873

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Inflation, ammunition shortages, and cultural stability are driving gun sales in Wyoming back down to pre-pandemic levels, according to gun dealers.  

Gun sales in Wyoming and the nation hit all-time highs in the spring and summer of 2020, as lockdowns and inner-city riots drove many first-time buyers to purchase guns. Rising demand and scarcity drove traditional gun-owners to stockpile both guns and ammunition as well, according to news reports at the time.  

Background checks for gun purchases in Wyoming leapt from about 6,000 per month in early 2020 to about 9,000 per month that spring – a trend that continued through much of 2021 except for a summer lull, according to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.    

But there were just 4,827 background checks for gun sales in Wyoming in January 2022. The figure climbed to 6,972 in March and dropped to 5,845 in April.  

Whatever the reason, it’s only natural for a market boom to end, said Richard Biby, manager of Rocky Mountain Sports in Riverton.  

“More people bought guns (nationally) in 2020 than almost all other years that have been tracked combined,” said Biby. “There’s no way to recreate those numbers. That was an absolute one in a million.”  One reason gun sales may have gone back to normal at this time, he said, is that “everything’s kind of gone back to normal.”  

Biby noted specifically that the inner-city riots of 2020 have ceased.  

‘So Behind On Ammo’ 

Some buyers who would like to purchase a specific type of firearm have been stymied by ammunition shortages, Biby added.  

Ammo shelves in Wyoming went bare in 2020 due, dealers said, to skyrocketing demands. Manufacturers are just now catching up – slowly. 

Biby said .22-caliber long-rifle, 9 mm and .223 rounds are “relatively caught up” in his store because the prior manager ordered them two years ago.  

The years-long delay wasn’t typical for the industry before 2020.  

“That’s a new-world thing,” said Biby.  

Down the road from Biby at High Country Sporting Goods, owner Dennis Mazet said the supply is “still terrible.”  

“If you buy a gun there’s a 10% chance you’re going to find the ammo for it,” said Mazet. “(Manufacturers) got so behind on ammo, I don’t know how in the hell they’re ever going to catch up.”  

In Powell, the owner of a small gun shop has struggled against the ammo shortage long enough to quit stocking it – for now.  

“The availability has been so dodgy,” said Aaron Black, of Northwest Trading Post. “You can get some stuff, but it’s hard to have a consistent supply.” 

Black said he’s “held off” restocking until there’s more reliability.  

Black noted that larger shops that go straight to the supplier instead of using a wholesaler may have more success keeping the product on their shelves. 

But he was also optimistic about the future ammo supply, noting that the manufacturer Remington rebooted operations in 2021 following its 2018 bankruptcy, which Black said may have been due to a failure to budget for leaner times.  

The Obama administration’s policies on firearms led to heightened sales; the Trump administration saw a drop in gun sales. Small gun shops and large manufacturers alike should prepare for such industry ups and downs, said Black.  

“You try to prepare for it a little: make sure you have enough capital on hand to get through a dry spell,” Black said. “But you can’t prepare for a three-year dry spell.”  

No Money For Toys 

Inflation is another culprit driving gun sales down, said Mazet.  

“When you’re paying five bucks a gallon for gas, you don’t have a lot of extra money to buy toys with it,” he said.  

Inflation hit the gun and ammunition market long before grocery and gasoline costs shot up early this year, said all three firearms dealers, noting that industry prices climbed during the extreme scarcity of 2020 and 2021.  

Biby said manufacturers started charging more for some products in 2020, and although it’s not consistent, certain weapons are still going up in price – even as gun sales drop. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Attorney General Joins Republicans In Petitioning Federal Bump Stock Ban

in Guns/News
Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
18778

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill has joined more than 20 other Republican attorneys general in a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ban on firearm accessories known as “bump stocks.”

Hill joined AGs from Kansas, South Dakota and 19 other states in filing a “friend of the court” brief in support of the Gun Owners of America’s lawsuit against federal Attorney General Merrick Garland over the federal ban on bump stocks, calling the ban a violation of Second Amendment rights.

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ erroneous rulemaking would abridge [the right to bear arms] by immediately transforming hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners in the States into criminals,” the brief said.

Bump stocks are devices attached to the rear of a rifle and are designed to reduce recoil, prevent injury and allow the user to more safely and accurately fire the weapon. However, they were banned in 2018 by former President Donald Trump following the Las Vegas shooting, one of the deadliest in the nation’s history.

The ATF adopted rules that the stocks essentially made semi-automatic rifles — those that fire one round when the trigger is pulled — into machine guns by allowing for more rapid firing.

Mark Jones, Wyoming’s legislative director for Gun Owners of America, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that he was delighted to see so many AGs supporting the organization in its fight for gun rights.

“Almost half the nation’s attorneys general have agreed with us that the ban is unconstitutional,” he said. “It’s very powerful.”

Jones said that while the ban began under Trump’s administration, GOA is fighting Biden’s attempt at using executive orders to pass laws that might not succeed in Congress.

“This idea of executive action to ban constitutional rights is something we have to stop,” he said. “I think people that appreciate their constitutional rights should be against an executive taking that type of action. Congress is supposed to make the laws, not the president.”

Although Jones was supportive of Hill’s action in joining the brief, Second Amendment supporter Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, was less than enthusiastic.

“Mark Gordon’s appointed AG has been AWOL,” Bouchard told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “In fact, it was the same AG that tried to overturn Stand Your Ground in Wyoming.

“The Biden administration’s recent actions go way beyond a bump stock ban,” he continued. “At best, signing on a bump stock brief, three years after the fact, and after the appeals court has deadlocked it, is at best a political stunt during an election season. It’s shameful!”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Biden Bans ‘Ghost Guns;’ Bouchard Calls It An Assault On Gun Owners

in Guns/News
18722

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

President Joe Biden’s crackdown on untraceable firearms known as “ghost guns” is an assault on gun owners across the country, a state senator said Monday.

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, told Cowboy State Daily that the administration’s ban on guns manufactured without serial numbers is a violation of the Second Amendment.

“Since the inception of our nation, Americans have held these most fundamental rights, for a citizen to be afforded the ability to make and own weapons,” Bouchard told Cowboy State Daily. “This right even predates our Constitution, as the founders based the Second Amendment on similar protections in the English Constitution. The U.S. Constitution places important ‘limits’ on the government and it stipulates that Congress is the only branch that makes law.”

On Monday, Biden and U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced that the U.S. Justice Department issued a final rule banning the business of manufacturing kits for the assembly of firearms using parts that do not carry serial numbers.

Bouchard said he knew this “assault” on gun owners was coming, which is why he introduced legislation in 2021 to make such executive orders unenforceable in Wyoming.

“Sadly, we have a ‘majority’ of Republicans in the Wyoming legislature that ignored my warnings, and refused to push back at Biden’s gun grab during the last session. And here we are,” Bouchard said.

The senator added that there were already laws on the books to jail those who make or use firearms illegally and that Biden was peddling fear to disarm law-abiding citizens.

Meanwhile, Wyoming Gun Owners ]spokesman Aaron Dorr told Cowboy State Daily that gun owners would meet Biden, who he referred to as a “tyrant,” in court.

“Joe Biden can’t pass gun control in the Senate, so he’s resorting to tyrannical executive orders that won’t do anything to stop violent crime, but will put gun owners in prison,” Dorr said Monday. “Today’s orders mandating the serialization of upper receivers and parts kits is the kind of naked tyranny that our Found Fathers warned us about.”

Mark Jones, Wyoming legislative director for Gun Owners of America, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that his association will also likely take Biden to court over the action.

“Americans have made guns at home since the beginning of our country,” Jones said. “These so-called ‘ghost guns’ are rarely used in crimes, so the threat of it is much lower than other things. It’s just a further attempt to track gun owners for eventual confiscation.”

Jones added that Biden’s ruling will not make American people any safer, but rather criminalize them for Biden’s “political stunt.”

“It’s much ado about nothing, but it’s a trampling effect,” he said.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso also called the president’s action on Monday an “unconstitutional, backdoor gun grab.”

“This is an attempt to distract from the real reason we’re seeing crime skyrocket across the country,” Barrasso said. “If Democrats are serious about combatting crime, they need to stop defunding the police and start prosecuting criminals. Attacking the constitutional rights of Americans is not the answer.”

The Justice Department’s ruling clarifies certain firearm assembly kits known as “buy, build, shoot” kits that can be purchased online or at a store without a background check will be qualified as firearms in the future under the Gun Control Act. Commercial manufacturers of these kits will have to become licensed as firearm dealers and include serial numbers on the kits’ frame or receiver and must become federally licensed and run background checks prior to a sale, as is done with other commercially-made firearms.

In 2021, approximately 20,000 suspected “ghost guns” were reported to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as having been recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations, a ten-fold increase from 2016, according to the White House.

Since ghost guns do not have serial numbers like other commercially-made firearms, law enforcement has a difficult time tracing one found at a crime scene back to its purchaser.

The Monday order will also help turn some ghost guns already in circulation into serialized firearms. Federally-licensed dealers and gunsmiths will now be required to add serial numbers to unserialized firearm taken into inventory. This requirement will apply regardless of how the firearm was made, meaning it includes ghost guns made from individual parts, kits, or by 3D-printers. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Sen. Bouchard, WyGO’s Aaron Dorr Decry Committee Censorship on Gun Bill

in Guns/News
17382

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Debate over competing Second Amendment bills led to allegations this week that people wishing to speak on the issue were prevented from doing so during a committee hearing.

However, security video taken during debate on Senate File 102, the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” showed that at least one of the people who claimed to have been prevented from speaking did not approach to do so during the meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

At issue was Senate File 102, which would prohibit Wyoming government entities from using public resources to enforce federal regulations and laws seen as infringing on the Second Amendment rights of Wyoming citizens.

The bill was approved in its final Senate reading on Friday and sent to the House for review.

While supported by Wyoming law enforcement and the Gun Owners of America group, the bill was opposed by the group Wyoming Gun Owners, which instead championed Senate File 87, a bill that would make any federal law infringing on gun ownership rights, such as tax increases on ammunition, null and void in Wyoming. The bill would also allow for lawsuits to be filed against law enforcement agencies trying to enforce those federal regulations.

SF87, sponsored by Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, failed to win introduction in the Senate and WyGO, represented by Aaron Dorr, criticized SF102 as “watered down.”

SF102 was discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, when Dorr and Bouchard both said they were prevented from speaking against it.

Bouchard said on the Senate floor Tuesday that he was not allowed to speak on the bill.  

“I wanted to speak in committee and that got shut down pretty quick,” said Bouchard.  

Dorr echoed the statements.

“(They) won’t let us testify, won’t let Sen. Bouchard testify against the bill in committee, and now this ultimate con job has kind of come full circle,” Dorr said in a Facebook video this week.

Policy? 

Dorr told Cowboy State Daily in an interview Friday that it is “the policy of a (legislative) committee” to accept legislator testimony before others. 

But the actual guidelines, as provided by the Legislative Service Office, aren’t that simple.  

Committee chairs are instructed to hear first from a bill’s sponsor, then the bill’s experts, then its proponents, then its opponents. After that, time permitting, they may seek final public comments.  

When asked what measures he took to address the committee, Dorr said he had signed onto the witness list but Nethercott “did a hard close” on the meeting “with no notice.”

Dorr also said it was clear during the meeting that Bouchard, who was late in arriving because he had attended another committee meeting, wanted to speak on the issue.

“Whether he had his hand in the air or was jumping up and down, it was clear Sen. Bouchard was there to offer testimony on this bill,” he said.  

Bouchard told Cowboy State Daily he believed SF87 bill was not backed because the law enforcement agents had thought, mistakenly, that it could have left them individually vulnerable to lawsuits.

Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, countered in his own interview that SF87 was unclear and may have forbidden police officers from participating in any federal task force or participating in any firearms investigation, even one dealing with traditionally illegal activity.   

Security Footage 

Cowboy State Daily reviewed two security footage videos of the meeting and one public recording of it (see below).

In the security footage, multiple speakers rose and went to the microphone to testify. 

During breaks between speakers, Dorr did not rise from his chair. He often leafed through papers or looked at his cell phone.  

The video also showed Bouchard leaning on or standing near a wall by the entrance for about 25 minutes, while six different speakers took turns at the microphone.  

After the sixth speaker, Oedekoven, Bouchard raised his hand to just above his shoulder level for approximately 2 seconds. 

He later told Cowboy State Daily that Nethercott “looked right at him” at that juncture.

During this time, Nethercott, who had repeatedly cautioned presenters that time was limited, said “Further public comment…? It’s 9:43. You’ve got – counting down now – we will adjourn this meeting at 9:47.” 

While she was still speaking, Mark Jones of Gun Owners of America, which supported SF102 to the criticism of WyGO, crossed to the microphone and sat down.  

Bouchard walked toward the front of the room and stood just behind the front row of seats, against the wall. He remained there for about eight minutes, after which he sat down in the front row next to Dorr. Both remained seated until the meeting adjourned.  

Once the meeting was over, Bouchard walked to Nethercott.  

“Thanks for letting me talk,” was the sarcastic statement he recalled saying to Nethercott.  

There is no audio track on the security footage. Nethercott did not comment on the exchange.  

Next, Bouchard gestured pointedly toward Hicks, spoke with him, and eventually lifted both hands in the air as if in frustration as Hicks left the room.  

Bouchard told Cowboy State Daily he could not remember the exact wording of that exchange. Hicks did not comment.  

Collision 

In his Facebook video, Dorr commented on an incident earlier in the week when Senate Majority Floor Leader Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, bumped into Sen. Tom James, R-Green River.

Dorr said Driskill is “feeling so much pressure he’s physically assaulting members of the senate.”  

A security video of the incident seemed to show Driskill bumping into James in a space between desks on the Senate floor.

Driskill said he accidentally bumped into James. James has not commented on the incident.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Senate Committee Approves ‘Second Amendment Protection Act’; WyGO Calls Bill “Horrific”

in News/Legislature
17253

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A bill aimed at preventing Wyoming law enforcement officers from enforcing federal gun regulations that infringe on the Second Amendment was approved Monday by a Senate committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, by a vote 4-0, approved SF102, the Second Amendment Protection Act, which sponsor Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, described as a way to protect protect Second Amendment rights while making sure law enforcement officers do not have to enforce improper federal laws.

“It is inherently important for us as the legislative branch of government to protect our citizens and their Second Amendment rights and also protect our law enforcement agencies from unconstitutional federal acts that would infringe on … our citizens’ Second Amendment rights,” Hicks said.

If approved, the bill would specify that state and local resources could not be used to enforce any federal law or regulation “that infringes on or impedes the free exercise of individual rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment.”

Hicks said the bill is based on the concept that while federal agencies are required to enforce federal rules and laws, Wyoming officials are not.

“The states are not obligated to implement federal laws,” he said. “That’s really important when we get into the context of the bill about having our local law enforcement put in a very untenable position of potentially having to enforce a federal law that we think … infringes on (citizens’) ownership and possession of guns and firearms.”

The act has the support of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, said Executive Director Byron Oedekoven, because it protects both citizens and law enforcement officers.

“From our perspective, it protects Wyoming’s citizens, it upholds the Constitution and it preserves the Second Amendment,” he said.

The bill has been criticized by Wyoming Gun Owners, whose spokesman Aaron Dorr said in a podcast it does not go far enough.

“We have a horrific bill, what a treacherous, intentionally, treacherous bill that provides no protection to gun owners…” Dorr said in his podcast last week. “And it’s being pushed by the worst people in the Legislature. It should make you angry, it should make you outraged.”

Dorr endorsed Senate File 87, a bill that would declare any federal rule or law that infringes on firearms ownership — such as an increase in taxes on ammunition — as unconstitutional and null in Wyoming. It also proposed a penalty for law enforcement officers who tried to enforce such federal rules.

SF87 was killed on introduction in the Senate by a vote of 9-20, but Greg Hunter told committee members during public testimony he would prefer that bill or HB133, a similar measure that also failed introduction, be passed in place of SF102.

“The other bills, it felt like Wyoming would actually fight the feds,” he said. “This one feels like I’m being hung out to dry.”

Following committee approval, the bill heads to the Senate floor for debate.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Cody Gunmaker Fights To List Its Products On State Website

in Guns/News
15383

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By CJ Baker, Powell Tribune

Firearms manufacturers are not able to sell their guns and ammo on the state’s Shop Wyoming website — and a Cody lawmaker wants the attorney general to take action against what she sees as illegal discrimination.

Last month, Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, asked Attorney General Bridget Hill to use a new law to sue the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network, which operates the online marketplace.

Williams made the request after complaints from Big Horn Armory of Cody, which has been unsuccessfully fighting for the better part of a year to list its guns on ShopWyoming.com.

The issue stems from the two large payment processors used by the site, Stripe and PayPal, as neither processor will handle sales of firearms and ammunition. But Big Horn Armory President Greg Buchel and Williams charge that the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network itself — run by the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Business Council and the U.S. Small Business Administration — is also discriminating against the firearm industry.

“The group that controls the Shop Wyoming website has free choice over what platform is used, they are culpable for that choice,” Williams wrote to the attorney general on Oct. 29, echoing an earlier email from Buchel. “The payment processor for Shop Wyoming and by association, the Wyoming Small Business Development Center and its directors employed by the University of Wyoming are in clear violation of W.S. 13-10-302(a).”

The law in question — which generally prevents financial institutions from discriminating against firearms-related businesses — was passed by the Wyoming Legislature and enthusiastically signed by Gov. Mark Gordon in early April.

Earlier this month, AG Hill said her office will look into the issue. However, it’s unclear whether Hill could bring suit against the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, as the new law appears to only apply to financial institutions and not their customers or clients. That’s a point that’s been raised by the director of the Wyoming SBDC Network, Jill Kline.

Emails provided by Buchel indicate there’s also been some uncertainty as to whether out-of-state payment processors like PayPal and Stripe are subject to the law. The legislation also says that financial institutions can choose not to provide services to gun companies “for a business or financial reason.”

While the attorney general’s office has only agreed to look into the issue, Buchel called it “the most positive action I’ve seen so far.”

In an interview, Director Kline said the SBDC has nothing against guns, and only realized the underlying ecommerce platform prohibited firearm sales after subscribing to the service.

“… we thought we had made a great selection,” Kline said in an interview. “As many of the ‘what if’ questions we asked, we obviously didn’t get them all in.”

She said the intent was never to exclude anyone.

“We’re trying to just do a program that’s going to help businesses here in Wyoming in this difficult time,” Kline said.

Publicly launched

The Wyoming SBDC Network, which is based at the University of Wyoming, publicly launched the Shop Wyoming marketplace in February. The site was developed in partnership with an Iowa-based company that powers similar marketplaces across the country, with all of the funding provided by the federal CARES Act.

Businesses can freely sign up to offer their products on the site, which the SBDC has pitched as a place for customers to find products from numerous Wyoming-grown businesses in a single location.

Kline said it gives businesses a place or another place to sell their goods online, particularly as foot traffic may be lagging amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, as a result of the program, “we’ve helped so many businesses actually even get a website up and running,” she said.

Around 107 vendors were using the Shop Wyoming platform as of earlier this month, she said, with the site drawing nearly 65,000 pageviews through October. That’s translated to 63 orders and just less than $5,000 in sales. It’s an average of only about $50 per vendor, but Kline says the platform is still growing and SBDC is hoping for a boost this holiday season.

Buchel applied to be a seller back on Feb. 1, looking to offer Big Horn Armory’s “unique big bore lever guns and semi-auto rifles.” However, the request was soon rejected.

“Unfortunately, the payment [processor] for our site does not allow for sales of firearms or ammunition so we are unable to let you list those,” explained Shop Wyoming Project Manager Audrey Jansen. “However, if you would like to sell firearm accessories such as holsters, slings, or cuffs you may do that.”

Other retailers sell such accessories on the Shop Wyoming platform — including leatherwork made for holding bullets — and businesses can include a link back to their full site. However, Buchel said he’s not interested.

“We want to sell the guns themselves,” he said in an interview. “All of the accessories are ancillary to the whole operation — we sell guns, we build guns. That’s the deal.”

Buchel quickly brought the issue to the attention of state lawmakers.

Days after Big Horn Armory’s denial in February, state Rep. Tom Walters, R-Casper, asked Director Kline if the SBDC could find a different payment processor — one that would allow the state’s firearm manufacturers to sell their products through Shop Wyoming.

“Wyoming has worked hard to recruit these manufacturers,” Walters wrote, “so it only makes sense for Wyoming to offer them the same opportunities as [it] offers other [businesses] in the state.”

However, Kline said the “Shop Where I Live” ecommerce platform, created by Member Marketplace Inc. of Iowa, came with only PayPal and Stripe as payment options and that building an alternative would be cost-prohibitive.

Cody Regional Health

Kline again noted that Big Horn Armory could list its non-firearm products and link back to its full site, saying that alternative was offered “to all the businesses that have run into this challenge.”

“We want to see all of our retailers statewide be successful and we are happy to assist this individual,” Kline wrote in late February, referring to Buchel. “Unfortunately, this project will not work perfectly for every business.”

Meanwhile, state lawmakers took up House Bill 236.

HB 236

The legislation generally prohibits financial institutions — defined as payments processors, financial institutions defined in state law and national banking associations — from discriminating against entities who are “engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition products.”

If a business faces such discrimination, the law says they can file a lawsuit and seek actual, treble and punitive or exemplary damages from the institution, along with recouping their costs.

It also empowers the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office to file a suit against institutions who violate the law. Under the bill, the AG can ask a judge to issue a temporary restraining order or permanent injunction against a financial institution that discriminates against firearm entities. The attorney general can also seek a civil penalty of up to $20,000 per violation for repeated discrimination — and the state could sever its business relationship with any offenders.

The final version of HB 236 passed the House on a 44-13 vote, while clearing the Senate 23-6. Gordon signed it into law April 8.

“I will relentlessly defend our Second Amendment and the Wyoming businesses involved in the firearms industry,” the governor said at the time.

In August — a month after the new law took effect — Buchel reapplied to join the Shop Wyoming platform. When he was turned down again, he charged that the Shop Wyoming processors, the Wyoming SBDC Network and its directors at the University of Wyoming were violating the law.

Kline responded by noting that UW is not a payment processor and not a financial institution.

“We simply subscribe to the ecommerce platform that hosts the site, and as a subscriber, we must comply with the terms and conditions provided by the platform,” she wrote in the email conversation, which included a few lawmakers.

Buchel, however, said it seemed that the organizations were “culpable” for their choice of platform.

“We again ask you to reconsider your decision regarding this matter before further action is necessary,” he wrote.

Rep. Williams’ took up the cause in the late October email to Attorney General Hill, asking for action under the new law, and she denounced the Wyoming SBDC Network’s actions in a news release earlier this month.

“I am appalled that they are not abiding by the new law,” Williams said, praising Wyoming’s firearms industry and Big Horn Armory, which is in the process of expanding its operation.

Working through the law

Hill did not respond to a message seeking comment, but the attorney general’s office is apparently now working to determine whether the law is being followed. As it sorts through the complaint, the office will likely have to consider a number of issues. For instance, while the law prohibits discrimination against firearm companies, financial institutions can choose not to provide service if they have “a business or financial reason.”

Stripe prohibits “weapons and munitions; gunpowder and other explosives” as part of a category of banned items it describes as “regulated or illegal products or services.” Additional items in the category include products containing tobacco, marijuana or CBD, prescription-only drugs, fireworks and toxic, flammable and radioactive materials. 

(Gambling services, adult content, bankruptcy lawyers, psychic services and door-to-door sales are also banned, among other things.) PayPal prohibits its services from being used on a smaller, but similar list of transactions.

On their websites, neither PayPal nor Stripe specifically explain why they ban firearm and ammo-related sales. A general Stripe FAQ on its restricted businesses offers that, “for now, due to various reasons, including requirements that apply to Stripe as a payment processor, requirements from our financial partners, and the potential risk exposure to Stripe, we’re currently not able to work with certain industries.”

In Buchel’s discussions with state officials, some questions have been raised about whether Stripe and PayPal are subject to the law. An attorney in the Legislative Service Office indicated to Rep. Walters that they likely are, though he called the question “a tricky one” within “a considerably complicated field of law.”

For his part, Buchel thinks the situation with the Shop Wyoming platform is clear.

“They’re discriminating,” he said in an interview, adding, “They’re taking a hard line and, you know, they’re wrong.” 

If the attorney general ultimately declines to file a suit, Buchel continues to have the option to hire a private attorney and take legal action himself.

Wyoming Ranks #2 In Nation For Gun Ownership; Montana Barely Takes Top Spot

in Guns/News
13592

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A gun store owner in Casper said he was not surprised Wyoming was ranked as No. 2 state in the nation for households that own guns.

Shawn Wagner of Wagner’s Outdoor Outfitters told Cowboy State Daily he was more surprised Montana managed to barely beat Wyoming out for the title of No. 1.

“I started out in this business while in Montana and learned up on all this good stuff at Big Bear Sports Center,” Wagner said Wednesday. “I’m kind of surprised they’re higher in percentage than us, because they have a fairly liberal crowd in the western part of the state.”

A 2020 report by the Rand Corporation (a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges) showed that Montana topped the nation for households that owned firearms with 66.3%.

Wyoming trailed closely at 66.2%.

As part of the Gun Policy in America initiative, RAND researchers developed annual, state-level estimates of household firearm ownership by combining data from surveys and administrative sources.

First, they used a small-area estimation technique to create state-level ownership estimates for each of 51 nationally representative surveys assessing household firearm ownership rates. They then used structural equation modeling to combine these survey-based estimates with administrative data on firearm suicides, hunting licenses, subscriptions to Guns & Ammo magazine and background checks into the final measure of household firearm ownership.

The resulting measure represented the proportion of adults living in a household with a firearm for each state in each year between 1980 and 2016.

Wagner noted that gun sales at his store have increased significantly since the pandemic started.

“Early on, all the stores were [busy] like that,” he said. “People couldn’t go to work, so they might as well go fishing, camping, shooting or some type of outdoor recreation. So we were busy because of that.”

Then, as the 2020 presidential election neared, gun sales again ticked up due to anxiety about the consequences of the outcome.

Now, Wagner is seeing a significant number of first-time gun owners, particularly women, visiting his store because they want to feel safe, or because they are part of a hunting family and have a new generation heading out to the woods or camps.

“I’d say about three-fourths of our gun sales are hunting related right now,” he said. “Our sales are double what they were before the pandemic. My store is tiny and we’re pushing out $1.5 to $2 million in products per year.”

While gun sales have increased over the last 18 months, Wagner is still seeing an ammunition shortage like he was in May.

“We got in a good size (shipment) of hunting ammo, but it was just for hunting, to the tune of about $25,000 wholesale and within a couple of weeks, it’s gone,” he said. “I don’t know how much longer this could last, but it could be another year.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Powell “Free AR-15 Roofing Company” Still in Business; Co-Founder Pushes Back Against Social Media Attacks

in Guns/News
13424

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A construction company that won global attention when it offered a free rifle with every new roof is now the target of customer ire because of project delays. 

However, the remaining partner in Wiggins Construction in Powell said the reports have amounted to exaggerations and half-truths.

“I’m basically just doing my best at this point, trying to keep up with what I can, to do what I can to try to basically resolve what we have left,” says Josh Wiggins, who with his brother Todd co-founded Wiggins Construction in 2013. “We’ve not backed out of any contracts, we’re just behind because we’ve lost our employees… and so we’re doing our best to resolve our issues and to keep moving forward.”

This spring, as a marketing campaign, the company offered customers who ordered a new roof or new building a free AR-15 rifle.

And for a few months, it worked great. Wiggins Construction was a media darling for the Fox News audience. The stance of the owners on Second Amendment rights was popular with conservative Americans, and support came from around the world.

“Somebody sent a message from the UK, saying ‘Hey, come do my roof, you know, we can’t own an AR-15 here’,” Matt Thomas, then-marketing director for Wiggins Construction, told Cowboy State Daily in April. 

At the time, the promotion did what it was meant to do — the company lined up job after job. But Josh said troubles began when the partnership faltered this spring.

“We probably had ($1.5 million) in projects lined up,” Josh Wiggins said recalls about the beginning of this summer. “Probably a dozen or better. Between subcontractors and employees, we probably had between 13 and 15 people working.”



But when Josh and his brother had a falling out this June, the business was hit hard. Josh said he is still actively working on construction projects, but Todd is no longer part of the day-to-day business, although they are legally still partners. 

Josh said the management issues have caused delays, which have spurred disgruntled clients to spread what he labels as half-truths on social media. Those rumors, in combination with the departure of his brother from the day-to-day business, have caused his company’s reputation to plummet. 

A news article about the company’s problems told just one side of the story, Josh said, because the company’s legal advisors cautioned him not to talk to the press. And when that story was posted on Facebook, the comments were anything but positive.

But Josh said the company has not violated any contracts it had with clients – rather, the work has been significantly delayed because of COVID-related supply issues, compounded by the management split.

“We were planning on doing everything,” he said. “I mean, obviously, we were struggling with employees, and with timeframes. You know, we ordered a set of doors, and they finally showed up after five months, I think. Windows were kind of the same story. So supplies were a huge thing. And for some reason, people just don’t couldn’t understand that. And so we have people that basically walked away from us, and didn’t even give us the chance to do what we said we would do, and now are causing issues even more so in the company.”

The comments on social media were more than just pointed at his business – Josh said his family was targeted as well.

“My family has been attacked personally, my wife, on social media, and I think that that’s not professional, for people to attack her,” he said. “She’s not an owner. She’s my wife. Social media just opens the doors for people to say whatever they want sometimes, which is obviously a good thing in some ways, but it’s a bad thing when it comes to ruining people and destroying their reputations.”

Between the management split — which has taken Wiggins Construction from more than 20 employees down to three — and the supply issues, Josh Wiggins said that the company’s ability to do business in a timely manner has been completely affected.

“Our goal all along was to do business with integrity, and to proceed in business,” he explains. “I mean, I have sunk my life savings into this to try to preserve what I could out of it, but I’m out of options right now other than to just keep going day by day and to try to pay our bills.”

Wiggins noted that social media, which had raised his company’s visibility to a national stage in the spring, has turned out to be just as much to blame for his family’s struggles now.

“My goal at this point is to try to preserve my name and be able to walk through town with dignity,” he said. “And that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyo Company That Promised Free AR-15 With Roof Job Disappears; Owners Sued

in Guns/News
12949

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Kevin Killough, Powell Tribune
Photo: Courtesy Powell Tribune

In the spring, Wiggins Construction LLC began aggressively pushing a new promotion, offering a free AR-15 rifle with the purchase of a new roof. The campaign generated a lot of praise and controversy on social media and elsewhere, and it received local and national media coverage.

In April, Wiggins Construction’s then-marketing director, Matt Thomas, told Fox Business that the company had more than 120 people around the state inquire about getting a new roof. The roofing promotion was set to run through the end of the year, and Thomas told the Tribune that the company was booked up with other construction jobs for nearly the next two years.

“As much business as we want, we can have it,” Wiggins Construction co-owner Josh Wiggins said in April.

However, the Powell company appears to have gone dark following a change in ownership, with some customers complaining of poor work and an inability to get in touch with the company.

Basin resident Tony Harrison is taking legal action against Wiggins Construction, alleging in a pending lawsuit that the company defrauded him out of over $45,000.

Two other Big Horn Basin residents are making similar claims against the company, but say they don’t want to spend the legal fees for a settlement they don’t believe will ever be paid.

“This is way bigger than screwing over one person,” Harrison said.

Two customers in the Powell area have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Wyoming Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit; the BBB suspended Wiggins Construction’s accreditation on Aug. 19, after the company failed to respond to the complaints. 

Multiple calls to the main number for Wiggins Construction seeking comment for this story were not returned. Thomas, the former customer relations and marketing director, said he is no longer with the company. Reached at a private number, former co-owner Todd Wiggins said he has also severed ties with the business. He referred questions to his brother, Josh Wiggins, who the Tribune was unable to reach.

Lawsuit

Harrison hired Wiggins Construction earlier this year to build a home on his property in Basin. In his lawsuit, Harrison says he paid the company $66,100 from a construction loan he took out. However, he says Wiggins Construction only performed about $28,000 in excavation and foundation work before abandoning the project.

The lawsuit Harrison filed this month against Wiggins Construction and Josh and Todd Wiggins alleges breach of contract and fraud, accusing the company of taking money for services that were never rendered. 

The suit is asking Wiggins Construction to pay back $45,145, which includes Harrison’s legal fees so far. 

In an interview, Harrison said the work Wiggins Construction did on the foundation was substandard. No floor joists or framing for the house were ever completed after the work on the foundation. In late June, Harrison said Josh Wiggins told him Wiggins Construction had money stolen from it and he wouldn’t be able to complete the rest of the work Harrison had hired the company to do. 

Harrison said he’s talked to other area residents, who claim to have similar experiences with the company.

Cold welcome

Stan and Debbie LaBlue paid Wiggins Construction over $90,000 to set up their doublewide mobile home northeast of Powell, and build a garage and backyard patio. 

In California, Stan worked decades as a truck driver and Debbie spent most of her career as a supervisor in a warehouse. Like many former residents of the Golden State, they wanted to get away from the politics and high cost of living in California, and decided to spend their retirement in Wyoming. 

But their move to the Cowboy State hasn’t gone as planned. The LaBlues said not only did Wiggins Construction not complete the work it was paid to do, what work the company did complete was shoddy.

The LaBlues expected to move into their house in April, when Wiggins Construction estimated the work would be complete. However, the residence wasn’t ready by the April date. Having already sold their place in California, the LaBlues came out to Wyoming and stayed weeks in hotels and an Airbnb rental. Rather than continue paying for lodging, they eventually moved into their home before it had heat, water or sewer. 

Wiggins Construction poured the foundation and set up the home, but much of the work, Stan LaBlue said, wasn’t done properly. One worker from another company, he said, fell through the floor in a hallway where there was nothing but tile over a space between studs, along the seam of the doublewide. 

By that point, the couple had already cut a few checks to Wiggins Construction totaling over $60,000. In June, Wiggins Construction reorganized as Breianna Wiggins Construction LLC, and the LaBlues made out a final check directly to Breianna Wiggins for $20,667, dated June 18, to complete the work on their home. Debbie LaBlue said Josh Wiggins kept assuring them the work would proceed, but it never happened.  

At one point, a lumber company threatened to put a lien on the LaBlue’s property for materials that Wiggins Construction had not paid for. The LaBlues said they had paid Wiggins Construction for the materials, but had to cut a $7,000 check to the lumber company to avoid a lien.

“They were coming after us,” Debbie LaBlue said.

Today, their house has heat, water and sewer, but it’s missing siding. The concrete for the garage and sidewalks is unlevel or unfinished. The drainage is all wrong, meaning water will run toward the house. Wiggins Construction put rebar down for the patio, but never poured the concrete. Wiggins also left a bunch of extra concrete on the approach to the garage, which the LaBlues had to tear up. It will cost them over $400 to dispose of the material. 

Cody Regional Health

The LaBlues have since hired another company to complete the patio, and the LaBlues’ son, Arend, is finishing the garage, which was left with a few walls, no drywall, uneven concrete, and no roof. 

Debbie LaBlue said they received the free AR-15 rifle Wiggins promised — a photo of the couple posing with their gun and the company’s marketing manager was featured in a story highlighting the promotion — but they have since sold it. 

The LaBlues contacted lawyers, but eventually decided it wasn’t worth the cost to pursue legal action.

“We’re not rich. We’re running out of money, and we’ll never see a dime from them [Wiggins Construction],” Stan LaBlue said. 

“You can’t get blood out of a turnip,” Arend LaBlue added. 

They filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Wyoming Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit, and are hoping they can help prevent others from getting taken.

Missing materials

Mike Foster also filed complaints with the attorney general and BBB, saying he had similar experiences with the company. 

Foster hired Wiggins Construction in the spring of 2020 to repair the roof on his father’s mobile home, which is on the same lot as his own house. Foster dealt with Todd Wiggins on that job and said the work was done properly and on time. Wiggins Construction even used photos of the house, with Foster’s permission, in promotional materials for the AR-15 rifle giveaway.

Based on that experience, Foster hired Wiggins Construction again in December 2020 to build his new house. As material prices were rising, Foster said Josh Wiggins asked for an advance to buy the materials before prices climbed higher. Foster paid Wiggins Construction $42,500 to order doors, windows, tile, flooring, and cabinets. Foster said the windows and cabinets were delivered, but he never saw the rest.

“These materials just didn’t show up,” Foster said. 

Wiggins Construction, Foster said, poured the foundation and put up the frame of the house, but that’s where the work ended. Foster said he spoke weekly with Josh Wiggins, and Wiggins gave him different reasons why the work wasn’t proceeding. Foster said Wiggins at first told him the siding hadn’t come in, but when Foster called the supplier to find out what was causing the delay, he was told no order for siding had been placed. 

Finally, in July, Foster decided to fire the company. 

“It came to a point where we couldn’t believe anything he [Josh Wiggins] said,” Foster said. 

New name

Wiggins Construction came under fire from several area residents on Facebook in July, around the time that the company took down its website, changed its name to “Breinna Wiggins Construction” on Facebook and created the new LLC.

In a July Facebook post, the company sought to address what happened, saying the changes were partially the results of a change in ownership. The company also denied various accusations that had been made on the platform.

“The bottom line is this. Wiggins Construction is not going out of business, we are not currently in a law suit, we did not steal $400,000. And please don’t believe everything you read online,” the company wrote on July 11. “We are looking forward to serving more customers and knocking out more roofs this year.”

However, in the comment section below the post, a couple customers posted in August that they were having a hard time reaching the company.

“Wiggins recently put a new and expensive roof on my house. The new roof seems to be excellent with the exception of the need for a gutter apron required to keep rain water out of my sunroom,” one area resident wrote on Aug. 19. “Why won’t you answer your phone or return my calls?”

Another request for a callback was posted days later, but by Friday, the entire Breinna Wiggins Construction LLC Facebook page had been deleted.

Tips for dealing with contractors

Most municipalities, including the cities of Powell and Cody, require general contractors to hold a license and be properly insured. However, rural Park and Big Horn counties do not have any such requirements.

The Better Business Bureau recommends that people research contractors before hiring them. Individuals can verify licenses and insurance, ask the company for references, get all estimates in writing and get a signed contract that specifies who will obtain permits and who is responsible for cleanup. It’s also a good idea to get a lien waiver that states that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work. 

Lastly, never pay a contractor up front for any work. Arrange a payment schedule, the BBB recommends, that staggers the payments at certain intervals when parts of the project are completed satisfactorily. All checks should be written out to the company and never to individuals.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Gordon, Buchanan Invite National Rifle Association to Relocate to Wyoming

in News/Mark Gordon
11757

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon and Secretary of State Ed Buchanan are inviting the National Rifle Association to explore relocating its Virginia operation to Wyoming. 

The two, in a letter sent to the NRA earlier this month, pointed to the state’s business-friendly tax environment, available workforce and the population’s strong support for Second Amendment rights as reasons to move to Wyoming. 

“We embody the ideals that are fundamental to the National Rifle Association,” the letter said. “Wyoming citizens appreciate their freedoms, especially when it comes to their Second Amendment rights.”

The organization has been looking to relocate from Virginia since the beginning of the year, following a bankruptcy declaration. Other states have previously courted the NRA, including West Virginia.

The letter also pointed to other firearm businesses in Wyoming, such as Magpul, Weatherby and Gunwerks.

Gordon is a lifetime member of the NRA and believes the right to bear arms is fundamental. Owning guns was part of a way of life growing up on his family ranch in Kaycee and remains so today, he said.

Gordon also signed multiple pieces of legislation this year that reinforced existing firearms laws in Wyoming, and he has also helped facilitate the relocation of several firearms manufacturing businesses to Wyoming.

“Wyoming citizens value our state’s customs, culture and  pro-second amendment laws,” Gordon said in a statement Tuesday. “We will always protect personal freedoms, and those of businesses involved in the firearms industry. All of this, plus our great hunting and other outdoor opportunities, make Wyoming an ideal place for the National Rifle Association to consider home.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter*** 

Lummis, Barrasso Criticize ATF For Proposed Pistol Brace Rule

in News/politics
11744

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis have joined a majority of their Republicans in the Senate in sending a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms asking it to withdraw a newly proposed gun rule.

Barrasso and Lummis joined 46 of their Republican colleagues in signing the letter to the ATF late last week that criticized proposed restrictions on “stabilizing braces” for handguns, saying they amounted to an infringement on Second Amendment rights.

“Every day, people across Wyoming responsibly use their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” Barrasso said. “This proposed rule threatens to turn law-abiding Americans into criminals by imposing the largest executive branch-initiated gun registration and confiscation program in American history. Our letter calls on the Biden administration to correct this mistake and withdraw this misguided rule.”

The rule, which was proposed earlier this month, would reclassify many pistols used with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles. A federal license is required to own a short-barreled rifle under the National Firearms Act, according to a Fox News article.

The letter from the senators said that by creating this rule, the ATF is suggesting the braces are “dangerous alterations to firearms designed to help criminals evade federal law,” which couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Stabilizing braces were initially designed and manufactured to assist disabled combat veterans in shooting larger pistols that were otherwise too cumbersome for a disabled gun owner to use,” Lummis told Cowboy State Daily. “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has previously ruled that they are permissible. This decision to overturn that ruling infringes on the Second Amendment rights of disabled veterans and non-veterans alike, across Wyoming and the nation.”

According to the ATF, the proposed rule would not affect stabilizing braces that are “designed to conform to the arm,” only devices that are designed to allow a handgun to be fired from the shoulder, like a rifle, the Fox News article said.

Republican Senators argued that the ATF’s criteria with this new rule is “vague, confusing, and largely subjective.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Gun Owners (WyGO) Sues State Over Election Fine

in Guns/News
11247

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Second Amendment advocacy group is suing the state over election laws used to fine it $500, alleging the laws impose unconstitutional restrictions on its rights of free speech.

Wyoming Gun Owners, in as lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this week, asked the court to rule that the election laws in question are unconstitutionally broad.

“Americans’ right to speak freely about candidates for elected office includes the right to publicly examine candidates’ positions on salient policy issues,” the lawsuit said. “Americans also have a right to know what a law means, especially one that may sanction them for engaging in political speech. Vague laws invite arbitrary enforcement and chill speech.

The lawsuit names as defendants Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, Deputy Secretary of State Karen Wheeler, Election Division Director Kai Schon and Attorney General Bridget Hill.

The lawsuit stems from a fine levied against WyGO by the secretary of state’s office for alleged violations of the state’s electioneering laws.

The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce complained that during the elections of 2020, radio ads, emails and a direct mail piece urged voters to vote for or against candidates.

Under Wyoming law, if a group spends more than $500 urging people to vote for or against a candidate or issue, the group is considered involved in “electioneering” and must register with the secretary of state’s office and disclose the names of its donors. 

State attorneys pointed specifically to a radio advertisement that aired in Cheyenne comparing the stances of legislative candidates on Second Amendment issues, referring to the ad’s statement “tell (state Senate candidate Erin) Johnson that Wyoming gun owners need fighters, not country club moderates who will stab us in the back.

They also told WyGO that other communications, including emails and a direct mailer, may qualify as electioneering.

WyGO did not file the reports required of campaign groups because it did not believe its communications fit the definition of electioneering, the lawsuit said.

A civil fine was levied against the group as a result.

In its lawsuit, WyGO said it was only informing voters of how various candidates stood on Second Amendment issues and was not urging people to vote one way or another.

It also said the secretary of state’s office did not specify, beyond the radio ad, which of WyGO’s communications — email, direct mail or Facebook posts — were in violation of electioneering laws.

“Accordingly, and considering (the state’s) manifest inability to distinguish between speech that expresses views about issues and candidates from speech advocating for a vote, (WyGO) respecfully preserves its claim that Wyoming’s ‘electioneering’ law is unconstitutional on its face,” the lawsuit said.

As a result, moving forward, the organization will “reduce its activity” because it is not sure what statements may lead to a complaint.

“But due to Wyoming’s electioneering-communications statute, and the manner in which Wyoming state officials have enforced, it … WyGO is left to twist in the wind and wonder whether it can send political emails, post videos and candidate surveys, maintain its website, and speak about candidates’ records in future elections,” the lawsuit said. “WyGO is also left to wonder how to report its contributions and expenditures, if they even are to be reported, and what it can or should tell its donors about their privacy.”

The lawsuit alleges the way the electioneering laws are enforced, groups like WyGO have no way of knowing whether they have violated the law until a complaint is lodged.

“The statute may trap the innocent by not providing fair warning or foster arbitrary and discriminatory application, and it can also chill speech by operating to inhibit protected expression,” it said.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the state from enforcing electioneering laws against WyGO’s communications and a ruling that the laws are unconstitutionally void and unenforceable. It also asks for reimbursement for trial costs, attorney’s fees and damages against Wheeler and Schon of $17.91.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Ammo Shortage Continues in Wyoming

in Guns/News
10985

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Wyomingites love their guns. And apparently, the rest of the country is jumping on that bandwagon.

In an era known for panic buying and stockpiling, guns and ammunition are popular items. In fact, ammunition is in such short supply that outdoor supply stores can’t keep enough on the shelves.

“They sit on the shelf for maybe a day and then they’re about gone for the most part,” said Madison Pendley, store manager at Rocky Mountain Discount Sports in Cody. “Unless we get like a full pallet, then that will last a couple of days, but that’s about the extent of it.” 

Pendley said the store has multiple suppliers that it orders from, and it will get multiple small shipments a day, but only about 10 boxes at a time. 

Shawn Wagner, the owner of Wagner’s Outdoor Outfitters in Casper, said he has never seen a shortage like this one.

“Not in 24 years,” which is the amount of time Wagner has been in the sporting goods business, he said.

“Well, it was similar, right after the Sandy Hook shooting thing during Obama time,” he added

Wagner pointed to efforts to pass stricter gun-control laws since President Biden was elected as one reason gun owners are stockpiling weapons and ammunition. Biden has proposed multiple forms of restrictions on firearms and accessories, such as ammunition capacity limits, a federal assault weapon ban and universal background checks.

“People are still paranoid, at least in our area,” Wagner said. “You know, we’re all conservative, not all of us, but the majority. And they’re just worried about what the administration is gonna do.”

And particularly in Wyoming, where shooting is a way of life, Pendley said people want to make sure they have enough ammunition on hand.

“People like their guns and ammo here,” she said. “So they’re seeing it all across the US, but we’re still buying everything that anybody can get their hands on because, of course, people like to shoot here.”

But political insecurity is only part of the equation.

“Somewhere about the first of March last year somebody flipped the switch with this COVID thing, plus the election coming,” Wagner said. “People just bought up stuff to where now I don’t have regular supplies of hunting ammo, I’m just starting to see it come back in right now, but it’s still very, very limited. It gets here and it’s gone, usually within a few days.”

The bottleneck also stems from factories limiting production during the pandemic, according to Pendley.

“The components that they need to load the ammo, primers in particular, are tough for them to get,” she said. 

“Some states are shut down and couldn’t get components; they couldn’t get brass,” Wagner adds. “Some of the factories have limited production, and they just kind of snowballed.” 

There has been an increase in new gun owners as well, adding to the demand. According to an official with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an estimated 8.4 million people bought firearms for the first time in 2020.

“So if you’re just going to buy the one or two boxes of ammo for (each new gun sold), that’s another 10 or 20 million boxes of ammo they have to make,” Wagner said.

And with a shortage of supply and an increase in demand, prices are bound to rise.

“Ammo for sure has definitely gone up,” Wagner said. “I think a lot of it’s gone up at least 30% to 50%. That’s just on everything.”

“We’ve seen price increases across the board,” Pendley said. “Anywhere from 3% for some companies, up to like 20% or 30% for other companies.”

And how much the price jumps depends a lot on who retailers order from, according to Pendley.

“The big guys aren’t increasing their prices nearly as much, as they have the buying power to still get the same prices that they have been getting,” she said. “The little companies, though — like, there’s a company in Montana that we’ve seen huge price increases from, because they don’t have the buying power to get what they need. They’re making sure that they get their money’s worth for the little bit that they do get out the door.”

But Wagner said production has started to ramp up again, which may alleviate the shortage.

“Now things are cranking out,” he said. “I know most of these ammo factories are running 24/7. And right now I’ve had .223 and .556 on the shelf – and we’re selling a lot – but I’ve gotten in enough to where it’s always been available for maybe two weeks now.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyo Company Offering Free AR-15 With New Roof Getting International Attention; Calls From England & Russia

in Guns/News
10434

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A Powell construction company’s unique marketing tactic has generated international attention.

Wiggins Construction, a small family business based in northwest Wyoming, this month began offering a free AR-15 (Armalite) rifle for every new roof it installs. And the promotion has drawn attention from around the world.

“We’ve had probably 300 missed phone calls in the past two days, upwards of 500 emails, Facebook messages, stuff like that,” said Matt Thomas, marketing director for Wiggins Construction.

He added the company estimates about 95% of the response has been positive.

And the feedback isn’t just coming from the company’s primary market in the Big Horn Basin. Thomas said Wiggins’ has received requests for jobs just a bit out of its geographic reach.

“We’ve got calls from all over the United States, and the world, asking us to come do a roof,” he said. “Somebody sent a message from the UK, saying ‘Hey, come do my roof, you know, we can’t own an AR-15 here.’ And so, there’s a little bit of humor behind it.”

But not all the attention is positive.

“We are getting phone calls, voicemails from people saying all sorts of negative stuff about us, you know, stuff like ‘baby killers,’ and ‘we’re distributing weapons of mass destruction to the public,’” Thomas said.

And in an era of increasing attention on gun regulation, Thomas said the promotion has caught the attention of a larger audience. 

He said state, national, and even international media soon picked up on the story.

“From Cowboy State Daily, it went to USA Today, it’s been shared to Yahoo, we’ve been on Fox twice,” he said. “The Sun, UK Times, over in the United Kingdom has posted about it. A Russian newspaper has posted an article about it over in Russia, and we have no clue what it says because we don’t read Russian.”

Thomas pointed out that one of the reasons the company’s owners decided to conduct such a promotion was to show their support for Second Amendment rights.

“One thing that’s confused a lot of people is they said, you know, ‘How in the world can you own these guns?’” Thomas said. “I’m like, well, we live in America, and you live in America. And this is still a right that we have as a nation.

“Wyoming has the most lax gun laws in the country, hands down,” Thomas continued. “But we also have, last time I checked, the least gun violence in the country, hands down.”

But even with the relatively relaxed gun regulations in Wyoming, Thomas said the company’s owners want to go above and beyond to reassure the public that they take gun issues seriously. 

“We will be conducting FFL (Federal Firearms License) background checks on anybody who would like a firearm and we do business for,” Thomas explained. “And it’s just a pretty simple process. We’ve got actually FFL dealers all over the state of Wyoming who have reached out to us in almost every single county, saying that they’ll do transfers for free for every single one of our customers.

“Today, I talked to Sheriff Scott Steward in Park County,” Thomas continued, “and he’s assured me that everything we’re doing is legal and above par.”

And the promotion has been expanded to appeal to potential customers who may not be in the market for an AR-15.

“If you don’t want the gun, we’re donating $800 in either your name or our company’s name to Serenity (Pregnancy Resource Center) in Park County,” Thomas said. “That’s even more than the actual cost of the gun, just because it’s a cause that we really stand behind.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Big Horn County Enters Second Amendment Sanctuary Debate

in Guns/News
10368

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Big Horn County officials are looking into joining other counties around the state in declaring themselves a sanctuary for the Second Amendment.

Several Wyoming counties have recently passed resolutions declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” Fremont County, Niobrara, Johnson and Hot Springs County Commissioners have all publicly declared their support for gun rights, taking a stand against what many perceive to be a national anti-gun movement.

Other counties, such as Campbell, Crook and Sweetwater, declared themselves to be Second Amendment Sanctuaries last year.

Big Horn County commissioners are among those considering making the same kind of public statement with a proclamation expressing support for the Second Amendment. 

C.J. Duncan, the mayor of Big Horn County’s seat in Basin, brought the idea to county officials.

He said he is concerned that what he sees as an anti-gun sentiment is becoming more prevalent throughout the country may threaten the rights of law-abiding citizens.

“With our current administration and past administrations at the federal level, gun rights specifically have been under attack,” he said, “even though the majority of people who own and operate guns are doing it within the bounds of the law.” 

However, Duncan added officials are concerned that if counties take too strong a position in favor of gun rights — for instance, if they signed a binding resolution rather than issuing a simple proclamation — local governments might face federal backlash.

“Legal counsel was afraid that if they signed a resolution or something stronger than a resolution, that they might be losing some of their federal grants and some federal funding,” he said.

In Johnson County, the resolution declaring the county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” specifies that no county resources will be used to enforce federal rules or laws seen as a violation of the Second Amendment.

Duncan said the proclamation is simply a statement that he hopes will send a message to government leaders.

“It declares to the federal government that we take our constitutional rights in Wyoming, especially in Big Horn County, very seriously and expect them to uphold those rights,” he said. “As long as we’re law abiding citizens.”

And that’s the key, according to Duncan.

“I truly feel like the government wants to punish everyone, because you have a few dirtbags out there who don’t live within the guidelines of the laws — and quite frankly, a criminal’s not going to,” Duncan said. “That’s why they’re criminals. And this is common sense, it’s not rocket science.”

He said that he does not support the idea of allowing convicted felons to possess firearms.

“I personally feel strongly that when someone breaks the law, they have infringed on someone else’s rights – and once convicted, once the due process has taken place, then they are forfeiting their constitutional rights,” which Duncan says includes the right to bear arms. 

Big Horn County is inviting the public to a listening session on May 3 to discuss the sanctuary proclamation. 

According to the notice, “Big Horn County desires to proceed in a way that not only upholds the Constitution and laws of the United States and the State of Wyoming, but is also in the best interests of our citizens and law enforcement officers.”

Duncan said he is hoping that the county commissioners will support a resolution, which takes a legal stance, rather than a simple proclamation.

“I really truly feel like a proclamation would sell our Second Amendment, constitutional rights for federal dollars – and I’m not willing to do that,” he said.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Lummis Introduces Bill That Would Allow People Under 21 to Buy Handguns

in News/Cynthia Lummis
10367

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis introduced a bill this week that would allow adults between the ages of 18 and 20 to purchase a handgun from a federally-licensed dealer.

The Second Amendment Mandates Equality Act of 2021 would repeal the law that currently prohibits people under the age of 21 from buying a handgun. The bill was co-sponsored by a number of Republican senators, including Montana’s Steve Daines, Idaho’s Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer.

“The Second Amendment is a constitutional right, and does not treat 18-year-olds as second-class adults,” Lummis said. “In keeping with the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, the SAME Act would overturn our current restrictive anti-handgun statute and ensure equal treatment under law for adults under 21.”

“Ultimately, if we trust 18-year-olds enough to defend our country and to choose our elected officials, we should trust them enough to purchase a handgun,” she added.

The senators argued that people age 18 to 20 are considered adults and can get married, serve in the military and form business contracts, therefore, they should have the right to buy a handgun.

“Arbitrary age restrictions barring law-abiding adults from legally and lawfully purchasing a handgun are unconstitutional and out of line with our country’s foundational beliefs,” Risch said. “The SAME Act will reinstall the constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds and expand access for Americans seeking to purchase firearms legally.”

The SAME Act is supported by Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights.

“Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ Second Amendment Mandates Equality Act (SAME Act) is true ‘common-sense’ gun legislation,” Gun Owners of America spokesman Aidan Johnston said. “The current 18–20-year-old handgun ban is antiquated and keeps honest, young adults disarmed – sending the message that the Second Amendment is a second-class right. GOA commends Senator Lummis for standing for the Second Amendment rights of young adults.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Roofing Company Offers Free AR-15 With New Roof; Californians Lose Their Minds

in Guns/News
10218

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Many businesses will offer incentives to lure new customers.

But a Powell company is putting a new spin on the practice — by offering a free rifle for every new roof.

Matt Thomas, marketing director for Wiggins Construction in Powell, said his business has noticed a number of people moving to Wyoming from other states to enjoy a level of freedom they perhaps haven’t felt in their home state. 

So Thomas said the owners of Wiggins figured that giving away something unique — like an AR-15 rifle — might spark some interest and give them a leg up on their competition.

“People are moving into Wyoming to get out of the cities and to get away from the regulation and to get away from living in fear,” Thomas said.  “We’re just offering it as almost like, for the people that are recently moving to Wyoming as a ‘Welcome to Wyoming’ gift, and for the people that are here, locals, just a ‘thank you’ for doing business.”

Through the promotion, Wiggins gives an AR-15 to anyone having the company install a roof on their residential or commercial property. The AR (which stands for ArmaLite Rifle) is a semi-automatic rifle that can be configured to use a variety of ammunition, but most often uses .223-caliber rounds.

And it’s a promotion that is certainly generating attention. Thomas said the company has received some very pointed feedback about its offer.

“We’ve gotten quite a bit of flack from it,” he said. “I don’t know how this story’s gotten to New Hampshire and to Chicago, Illinois, and to central California. But we are getting phone calls, voicemails from people saying all sorts of negative stuff about us, you know, stuff like ‘baby killers’, and we’re distributing weapons of mass destruction to the public.

“But here’s the thing,” Thomas continued. “None of these people are locals that are really saying this. The response from the actual public and the locals has been phenomenal — we’ve got probably three voicemails this morning from people like ‘Hey, we don’t need a roof, but we saw your ad in the Powell Tribune and we just want to say that it’s awesome, and we really support what you guys are doing.’ “

The promotion started on April 12, and Thomas said the company has already booked more than 15 roofing jobs, with the goal of booking 150 more on by the end of the promotion.

“So as long as our government doesn’t do anything to restrict us from buying more guns to give away, we’re anticipating maybe 150 to 200 rifle giveaways by the end of the year,” Thomas said.

But he noted that the promotion shouldn’t be seen as a short cut for people looking for a way to get their hands on a semi-automatic rifle — there are very important rules and regulations the company is following.

“Even though Wyoming is the only state in the United States that does not have any gun transfer laws,” Thomas said, “we just want to make sure that everything we did was above par. So our lawyer has drafted up a form stating that (the customer is) over 21 years of age, that they are not a convicted felon, and they agree to abide by all state and federal firearms laws. 

“And then they’ll be signing that form, and we’ll be taking the serial number of the rifle and putting it down on the transfer of ownership form,” he added.

Thomas said even though the promotion is hitting the mark with gun enthusiasts, the company didn’t create the rifle giveaway idea to capitalize on people’s fears.

“If the government says, ‘Hey, this is no longer legal,’ we’ll stop our promotion — we want to be above par, and all of that,” he said. “We just kind of wanted something tangible to put in their hands, besides just a thank you card.”

PHOTO: Matt Thomas, center, from Wiggins Construction with Stan and Debbie LaBlue.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyo Gun Owners (WyGo) Group Says Director of Sheriffs and Police Assoc. Is “Cancer On 2nd Amendment”

in Guns/News
9921

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A veteran Wyoming law enforcement officer is the latest target for a vocal gun rights group.

Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, drew the scorn of the Wyoming Gun Owners by opposing several measures proposed by gun rights advocates in the Legislature’s recent general session.

“There has never been a pro-gun bill that Byron Oedekoven did not oppose,” Aaron Dorr, WyGO’s political director, said in an April 1 post on the group’s Facebook page. “This guy is a cancer on the Second Amendment here in Wyoming.”

Dorr also called Oedekoven a “spindly little weasel” and repeated a theme often heard on WyGO’s Facebook posts that the former sheriff is a foe of Second Amendment rights.

But Oedekoven, a law enforcement officer for almost 30 years, denied Dorr’s allegations, noting that in 1995, he signed an “amicus brief” on behalf of what was then the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs challenging the validity of the federal “Brady Bill” gun control measure.

“My personal record shows I have been incredibly strong for the Second Amendment, and for them to describe it otherwise is a total disregard for the truth,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “It would be interesting to question what their actual motive was in stirring up this level of controversy.”

At issue is Oedekoven’s work on behalf of WASCOP to fix problems the group saw with several bills, primarily the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” offered by Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, a former executive director of WyGO. The bill was approved in an amended form by Wyoming’s Senate, but never taken up by the House.

The bill as originally written would have allowed Wyoming to declare as null and void any federal regulations seen as an infringement on the Second Amendment, including tax laws and registration rules.

The bill would also have forbidden police officers from seizing weapons under federal laws considered null and void and would have made any officer seizing a weapon under those federal laws subject to $50,000 in civil damages.

Similar bills are being considered in a number of other states. In Montana, a bill that would have banned the enforcement of new federal gun regulations was tabled. In Missouri, where proponents amended the bill to add the $50,000 in civil damages, the bill is awaiting Senate review.

Both WASCOP and the Wyoming Prosecuting Attorneys Association opposed the bill in Wyoming, in part because of the restrictions it would have put on police.

“They tried to say you couldn’t disarm a person who … hadn’t been found guilty yet,” Oedekoven said. “Then the question became what do you do with guns from bank robbers, child molesters and human traffickers who are not convicted felons and are in possession of firearms?”

WASCOP also objected to the bill’s removal of “qualified immunity,” which gives police offices and other public officials broad immunity from civil lawsuits for actions taken within their duties.

The state’s 23 sheriffs wrote a letter to legislators explaining their opposition to the bill while expressing their support for Second Amendment rights.

“The Wyoming Sheriff’s Association, collectively and individually, hold the United States and Wyoming Constitutions in the highest regard,” it said. “We, the Wyoming Sheriffs, respectfully request that the Wyoming Legislature seek laws that allow us to perform our duties while still protecting the law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, which we hold as an absolute.”

Joseph Baron, representing the Prosecuting Attorneys Association, compared the bill’s language to that found in what he called “anti-law enforcement laws” championed by congressional Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Several of those testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 17 also noted that states lack the authority to simply declare a federal law or rule null and void.

WASCOP worked with lawmakers on an amendment to the bill creating a process through which the governor could issue an executive order banning police from enforcing federal rules and laws the state’s attorney general found to be contrary to the Second Amendment. The move was seen as a way to prevent the improper enforcement of unconstitutional laws while allowing law enforcement officers the flexibility to seize weapons when warranted.

“Our position was to stand strong on the Second Amendment and to assist where we could in developing strong language that would work well for law enforcement,” Oedekoven said.

Oedekoven’s work on the bill earned him the title of a “taxpayer funded anti-gun lobbyist” from WyGO, and visitors to the group’s page posted negative comments, with one suggesting he “needs to be taken out to the back 40.”

But Dorr, WyGO’s only registered lobbyist, did not argue in favor of the bill in the Judiciary Committee. Nor did he appear via video link to testify on the bill before the committee.

He did post several videos of himself on the group’s Facebook page talking about the bill as he drove down a highway that did not appear to be in Wyoming.

Dorr suggested in his videos that Wyoming gun owners call their county commissioners and urge them to withdraw from WASCOP because of Oedekoven’s actions.

“Your tax dollars are paying for this anti-gun troll to work the Capitol and attack your gun rights,” he said. “If that burns your backside, talk to your county officials and tell them if your money is going to fund (WASCOP) dues, then that’s a problem and (they) better deal with that or we’ll find someone who will.”

Oedekoven said some of those commenting on Dorr’s video also suggested that Dorr’s supporter should confront Oedekoven at his home in Campbell County.

“I haven’t seen any of that yet,” he said. “I am a little concerned based on the rhetoric and misinformation they are putting forth.”

In the course of his videos, Dorr also referred to Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill as a “putz.” Dorr is entangled in a legal battle with the attorney general’s office over the alleged failure of WyGO to register as a political action committee during last year’s elections.

Dorr’s videos also featured him calling the majority of Wyoming’s legislators “spineless little cowards.”

“We don’t have a pro-gun Legislature,” he said. “We have a handful of incredibly pro-gun legislators.”

WyGO is one of a number of state gun rights advocates groups run by Dorr and his brothers, Chris and Ben. 

WyGo regularly threatens to unseat elected officials who do not agree with its positions on gun issues. It led the charge in the 2020 primary election to remove Wyoming legislators it portrayed as weak on gun rights, including Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, and Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, who were defeated in their re-election bids.

Nationally, the Dorr brothers have criticized the National Rifle Association as being too weak in its defense of Second Amendment rights.

The organization’s Wyoming office is listed on its website as a private mailbox at a Cheyenne shipping service. Its mailing address, according to filings with the secretary of state’s office, is also listed as the Carlsbad, California, office of Labyrinth Inc., a company that says it helps charities with their state registrations.

WyGO’s registered agent, a primary contact needed for every corporation that registers in Wyoming, is a company called “InCorp Services,” a Nevada-based company that offers its services as a registered agent for multiple corporations in multiple states.

A Cheyenne phone number listed on the group’s website rang through to a recording. The group did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s message or an email asking for an interview.

WyGO does not list the number of its members on its website, but its Facebook page has 33,245 followers.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Barrasso, Cheney, Lummis Say Biden Is Infringing on Consitutional Rights With Gun Orders

in News/politics
9887

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

All three of Wyoming’s congressional delegates are criticizing President Joe Biden’s firearm-related executive actions.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, along with U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso, all took to social media on Thursday to slam Biden’s six orders regarding firearms that were announced this week.

“The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. I will always defend it,” Cheney said. “Actions like the ones President Biden took today infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans, while doing nothing to prevent criminals from committing the tragic attacks we have seen in communities across our country.”

Biden’s six orders included one to tighten restrictions on “ghost guns,” weapons that can be built from parts purchased online and that do not carry serial numbers, and one to tighten restrictions on stabilizing braces used with handguns to improve their accuracy.

He also ordered the Justice Department to prepare model “red flag” legislation for states that may want to adopt such laws. “Red flag” laws allow family members or law enforcement agencies to ask courts to temporarily ban people who may pose a threat to themselves or others from possessing firearms.

Lummis said that these orders wouldn’t stop “evil people.”

“The problem is still not the 2nd Amendment, and President Biden’s actions won’t stop evil people, just make it harder for law-abiding people in Wyoming to exercise their rights,” the senator wrote on Twitter.

Barrasso also commented on the social media platform, saying Biden was infringing on people’s constitutional rights.

“Every day across Wyoming, we responsibly exercise our right to keep and bear arms. The last thing we need is for the president to infringe on our constitutional right to protect our homes and families,” he said.

They are just a few of the Wyoming officials who have spoken out against these orders.

On Thursday, Gov. Mark Gordon said he was disappointed with the executive orders signed Thursday by President Joe Biden that the president said were aimed at slowing gun violence.

“I just want to say how disappointed I really am at the Biden administration and their actions today, because the Second Amendment is something that is absolutely fundamental to Wyoming,” he said. “There is no question the Second Amendment is a constitutional right and Wyoming will stand firm against any attempts to erode that right. We will protect our firearms at all costs.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

WyGO Calls Biden a “Tyrant,” “Gun Grabber” For Latest Executive Orders

in News/Legislature
9852

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Gun Owners group had strong words for President Joe Biden on Thursday with the announcement of new firearm-related executive orders.

Biden’s executive orders included steps to restrict weapons known as “ghost guns,” which can be built with parts and instructions found online and which do not carry a serial number, according to CNN.

WyGO, however, did not think any of Biden’s orders were a good idea, calling the president both a “tyrant” and “gun grabber” in posts made to their social media account on Thursday.

“Joe Biden just launched his massive attack against freedom!” the group wrote Thursday, detailing multiple issues Biden was tackling with the orders. “His handlers decided he will…stop the sale of ‘ghost guns’ and force their sale records to be processed through the government gun owner database.”

The ”ghost gun” ban was one of the seven issues the group tackled in its post. WyGO also encouraged its followers to tell Congress “F No” to red flag gun confiscation.

Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others.

Biden has pushed the Justice Department to prepare a template for red flag laws that could be used by states wanting to adopt such restrictions.

Biden’s executive orders come just weeks after a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, that left multiple people dead, including a police officer.

The president also announced he is nominating gun control advocate David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which hasn’t had a permanent director in place since 2015.

WyGO also encouraged its followers to reach out to Wyoming legislators about adopting a “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” which was actually proposed during this legislative session by WyGO founder Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne.

Bouchard’s bill originally would have allowed the state to declare invalid any federal law or rule that was seen as a violation of constitutional Second Amendment rights.

Senators voted 24-6 in favor of Senate File 81, the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” only after it was heavily amended to create a legal process by which the state could refuse to enforce certain federal gun rules.

Bouchard ultimately voted against the bill, saying its amendments destroyed its original intent.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Gun Owners Praises Passage of Concealed Carry Bill

in News/Legislature
9834

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Gun Owners organization is celebrating the recent signing of a bill to let visitors to the state carry concealed weapons without a permit.

House Bill 116 was signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon on Tuesday. The bill removes extends to all law-abiding American citizens Wyoming’s privilege to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.

WYGO posted about the bill’s signing on Tuesday, praising two particular legislators for their work on it.

“BOOOM!!! Moments ago, House Bill 116 was signed into law meaning that Wyoming’s Constitutional Carry laws (one of the oldest in the country) now applies to ALL law abiding gun owners!!!” the organization wrote on its Facebook page. “MAJOR SHOUT OUT to Rep. Bob Wharff and Senator Anthony Bouchard for leading this fight on the inside and a massive shout out to the members of WYGO for hammering this bill into law!!!!! WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!”

Wharff, R-Evanston, was the sponsor of the bill. Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, along with six other Wyoming senators (including Sen. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne) co-sponsored the legislation.

More than a dozen state representatives co-sponsored the bill, including Bouchard’s primary election opponent in his effort to unseat U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper.

Bouchard is the founder of WYGO, although he is no longer involved in any management positions due to his work as a senator.

The group posted a second time on Tuesday about Wharff and Bouchard, praising their work in the Legislature.

“HUGE SHOUT OUT TO Rep. Bob Wharf and Sen. Anthony Bouchard, the House and Senate sponsors of HB 116, which passed today!!!” WYGO wrote. “No one fights harder for you on the inside!”

This was not the only firearm-related legislation Bouchard worked on this legislative session. He originally sponsored Senate File 81, which would give the state the authority to find certain federal gun regulations invalid.

However, he ultimately voted against the bill after it was amended, saying it no longer had the intent of the original legislation.

As originally written, the bill said the state could declare as invalid any federal law that infringed on Second Amendment rights, including taxes on firearms and ammunition, registration of firearms and laws forbidding the ownership, use or possession of firearms by law-abiding citizens.

The bill would also have forbidden law enforcement officers from seizing weapons in response to federal laws and would have allowed officers and their local governments to be sued over such seizures.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

South Dakota Senator Tells Biden To Grab His Gun, Immediately Faces Backlash

in News/politics
9612

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A U.S. senator from South Dakota found himself in hot water on Thursday due to a tweet he directed at President Joe Biden.

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds responded to Biden’s call for banning assault rifles in the wake of a Boulder, Colorado, shooting this week by tweeting a photo that showed a statue of Rounds holding a gun and a dog looking up at him.

“Hey @JoeBiden – come and take it. Careful, she bites too,” Rounds tweeted.

The statue is part of the Trail of Governors in Pierre, South Dakota, which features the statue of Rounds and two other former governors and their dogs. Rounds served as South Dakota governor from 2003 to 2011.

Rounds faced immediate backlash from the tweet, with some assuming the senator was threatening the president with violence.

“The GOP has already fomented one deadly insurrection,” the South Dakota Democratic Party wrote in response to the tweet. “This kind of rhetoric that can foment another armed insurrection. This seditious behavior is only aimed at getting people hurt. Shame on you, @SenatorRounds for agitating violent rhetoric and tweeting veiled threats.”

One person tagged the Secret Service in a tweet, saying its agents should reach out to Rounds about the post.

The senator hadn’t responded to any of the messages or posted any follow-up tweets by Thursday afternoon.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyo House Committee Backs Bill Allowing Concealed Carry Without Permit To Out-Of-Staters

in News/Legislature
9222

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would allow law-abiding residents of other states to carry concealed weapons in Wyoming without a permit would benefit tourism in the state, its sponsor said Wednesday.

Rep. Robert Wharff, R-Evanston, successfully urged members of the House Judiciary Committee to approve HB116, which would extend Wyoming’s privilege for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons without permits to visitors of the state, saying the change would be important for visitors who like to carry weapons.

“I know there’s a lot of people who travel, a lot who like to be able to … know that they can do so … without worries,” he said. “People love to come to our state … because we afford those constitutional rights.”

In the past, to carry a concealed weapon, Wyoming residents had to obtain a permit from law enforcement officers. Several years ago, the Legislature lifted the requirement for a permit for Wyoming residents who were at least 21 and legally eligible to possess a firearm. The bill would extend that privilege to law-abiding residents of the United States.

\Wyoming is one of 18 states to allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit and16 of those states extend the same privilege to visitors who meet their requirements, said Nephi Cole, director of government relations for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Cole said his organization backs the change because now, concealed weapons permits from some states are not recognized by Wyoming, so the holders of those permits cannot carry a concealed weapon in the state.

“We don’t like the loophole,” he said. “We think it is appropriate that we treat everybody the same in this regard.”

Cole added that some states that have extended to visitors the right to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, such as Utah, have become destinations for people seeking to training and permits for concealed weapons.

The bill was approved for floor debate on a vote of 8-1 despite reservations voiced by Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chief of Police.

Oedekoven said while his organization agrees law-abiding citizens should be able to carry weapons, members are worried that the bill could leave law enforcement officers unable to take action against those who may not be law-abiding.

“I hope at some point in the future, you help us in the matter of dealing with those who are up to no good,” he said. “At three in the morning, the three guys who are riding with a dope dealer … who are carrying the gun, upon this bill passing, as near as I can tell, I just get to compliment them on their style of weapon and their manner of carry and wish them a fond good day.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Barrasso Slams Biden’s Proposed Gun Reform

in News/politics
8841

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso slammed President Joe Biden’s call for “commonsense” gun reforms on social media Tuesday, calling the Democrat’s ideas an assault on Second Amendment rights.

“I won’t let @JoeBiden threaten the right of people in Wyoming to keep & bear arms,” Barrasso said on his Twitter account early Tuesday afternoon, retweeting an article from political website The Hill about Biden’s reform.

Biden called for Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including a requirement for background checks on all gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and the elimination of legal immunity for “gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.

Biden’s comments came in a statement on Sunday, the three-year anniversary of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, the deadliest in American history.

“The time to act is now,” Biden said.

While Barrasso agreed that the United States must find ways to control violent crime and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, Biden’s attack on the Second Amendment wasn’t the way to do so.

According to The Hill, gun sales have been on the rise across the nation in recent weeks, an increase attributed to concerns that Biden will act on gun control in his early days in office.

Biden regularly spoke on the campaign trail about his passion for gun law reform and regularly said he would implement some type of background check legislation.

The new administration hasn’t appointed a new head to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which is the department that enforces gun laws.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Bill Would Prohibit ‘Gun Buyback’ Programs in Wyoming

in News/politics
2725

By Bob Geha, Cowboy State Daily

A measure that would prohibit governmental entities from running “gun buyback” programs has been filed for consideration by the Legislature during its upcoming session.

House Bill 28 would prohibit any Wyoming government body, including the University of Wyoming, from buying firearms from citizens.

The programs have been used in some large cities around the country in an effort to reduce the number of firearms on the street, however, no such program has been staged in Wyoming.

Bill sponsor Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, said he wants to make sure it is difficult in the future to launch a “buyback” in Wyoming.

“It’s not really a concern right now,” he said. “But if it is ever a concern, where organizations such as governments, whether local or state, are starting to do this … I want to make it as painful as possible for them to be able to peel back our … legislation.”

The measure has supporters among firearms retailers such as Ryan Allen of Cheyenne’s Frontier Arms.

Allen said in such programs, governments often end up paying far more for firearms than they are worth.

“The broken firearms, the inert, the $20 to $35 firearms … they’re paying four to five times what they’re worth,” he said.

Lindholm agreed.

“There will be some people who take advantage of the incompetency of government and bring in grandpa’s old over-and-under (shotgun) that’s been broken for the last 30 years and get $500 for it,” he said.

Both agreed that the more important issue is that of preserving Second Amendment rights.

“In regards to gun violence, the answer’s pretty clear at that point, you should let people defend themselves, let them practice their own God-given right,” Lindholm said.

“Firearms and gun ownership is part of our culture here in Wyoming,” Allen said. “So hopefully that doesn’t change.”

The Legislature’s budget session begins Feb. 10. Because Lindholm’s bill is not related to the budget, it would have to win support from two-thirds of the House to even be considered.

Gun Control: Sara Burlingame OK with Sensible Gun Regulation

in News
1800

Much like we did with Representative Tyler Lindholm (R- Crook County) earlier this week, we sat down with Wyoming State Rep. Sara Burlingame (D-Laramie County) to discuss national gun control measures following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

Burlingame says she believes the U.S. can and should adopt stricter gun regulations and these measures can make the country safer without infringing upon Second Amendment rights.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Gun-free zone repeal dies in committee

in News
Anthony Bouchard being interviewed on camera
755

By Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would have eliminated Wyoming’s “gun-free zones” was killed by a Senate committee on Wednesday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 to kill SF 75, proposed by Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne.

The bill would have eliminated areas where concealed weapons are not allowed, such as government buildings and school campuses.

Bouchard said he tried unsuccessfully to get his bill moved to the Senate Agriculture Committee, where he believed it stood a better chance of approval.

“I kind of knew if it went into (the Judiciary) Committee, it would die,” he said.

A similar bill, HB 183, is awaiting introduction in the House.

Go to Top