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WYGO

After WyGO Court Loss, Secretary Of State Seeks Clarity On How To Enforce Elections

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

In its appeal of a court case it recently lost to Second Amendment advocacy group Wyoming Gun Owners (WyGO), the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office is asking the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for direction on how it should enforce election rules.

The State fined WyGO in 2020 for failing to disclose donors as a group spending more than $500 on “electioneering communication.” In his March ruling in favor of WyGO, U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl said the election law itself was unconstitutional because of how vaguely it was written.

In a statement last Friday, the secretary of state’s office said Skavdahl’s ruling lacked clarity as to how these challenged state statutes should function moving forward.

“By appealing to the Tenth Circuit, we seek direction for us as administrators and for those who engage in electioneering activities,” said Monique Meese, a spokesperson for the office. “We are hopeful that the ruling will also benefit the legislature should they wish to make statutory changes.”

The Legislature, during its budget session earlier this year, already approved a bill aimed at expanding the “electioneering communication” law.  It clarified “electioneering communication” to mean any public political advertising and said any expenses or contributions of $1,000 or more for this purpose must be reported.

The bill, which was signed into law in March by Gov. Mark Gordon, also said internal communications would not count as electioneering communication.

On April 29, the state attorney general’s office filed an appeal in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. On May 9, WyGO filed a cross-appeal. A cross-appeal is a request made after the original appeal, seconding a desire for the court to review and or clarify a lower court’s decision.  

Aaron Dorr, policy advisor for Wyoming Gun Owners, said in May, the appeal shows state officials are not paying attention to the wishes of their constituents.

“Ed Buchanan and the political elites in Cheyenne aren’t getting the message,” Dorr told Cowboy State Daily. “They didn’t listen when gun owners threw their anti-gun RINO (Republican In Name Only) friends out of office in 2020. They didn’t listen when Wyoming Gun Owners told them to go to hell when they demanded a list of our donors.”

Buchanan announced a few weeks after the lawsuit was filed, he is not seeking reelection, and instead is applying to be a judge in Goshen County. 

The WyGO lawsuit originated from Buchanan’s determination during the election campaign of 2020 that a $1,200 radio ad WyGO issued in support of Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Cheyenne) amounted to “campaign electioneering.”

The ad portrayed Bouchard as a champion of Second Amendment rights while calling his opponent for the state Senate, Erin Johnson, “pathetic” because she did not mention gun rights on her website.

Under state law, any group spending more than $500 on “electioneering communication” must report all contributions of $100 or more “related to” the communication.

Bouchard argued the advertisement did not qualify as “campaign electioneering” because it did not urge listeners to vote for or against either candidate.  But the state disagreed and charged WyGO with violating state election laws. The organization was fined $500 as a result.

WyGO paid the fine, but appealed the ruling to federal court, where Skavdahl ruled it would be too difficult to determine which contributions to WyGO were used to pay for political ads and which were used for other purposes.

The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office and Deputy Attorney General Brandi Monger are representing Buchanan, Deputy Secretary of State Karen Wheeler, Election Division Director Kai Schon and state Attorney General Bridget Hill in the case.

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

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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.

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Wyoming Gun Owners’ Aaron Dorr Hails Federal Court Ruling

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

An official with a Second Amendment advocacy group is hailing a judge’s decision in the group’s favor in its lawsuit against the Wyoming secretary of state.

Aaron Dorr, policy advisor for Wyoming Gun Owners, said he was pleased that a federal court ruled as unconstitutional a state law that would have made the group disclose its donors.

“”With help from the Institute for Free Speech we won … securing a victory for the First Amendment and the Second Amendment at the same time,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “On to the primaries!”

The lawsuit stemmed from a radio ad purchased by WyGO in August 2020 that portrayed state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, who was seeking re-election, as a champion of Second Amendment rights and his primary opponent, Erin Johnson, as “pathetic” because she did not mention gun rights on her website.

The Wyoming secretary of state found the ad to be “campaign electioneering” and said as a result, WyGO would need to provide its list of campaign income and expenses in keeping with state law.

The law in question requires organizations that spend more than $500 on “electioneering communication” to report its income and expenses “related to” the communication.

WyGO sued the secretary of state’s office, claiming the law created an unconstitutional hinderance to the right to free speech.

“Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan thought he could put a muzzle on Wyoming Gun Owners as a favor to his political friends in Cheyenne,” Dorr said. “He never thought we’d drag him into federal court.”

Judge Scott Skavdahl, in his ruling Monday, agreed the debate centered on the right to engage in political speech.

Skavdahl said while the state does have an interest in knowing who is speaking about a candidate before an election, it must narrowly tailor its laws make groups only report donations made to support advertising.

Without such limits, groups such as WyGO would have to separate out donations from people who only want to support activities such as lobbying or the creation of newsletters, Skavdahl said.

“Otherwise, small incidental donors with no intention of contributing to electioneering communications will be reported, which does not support the state’s interest in knowing who is speaking before an election,” he wrote.

While the secretary of state’s office argued WyGO could be required to account for the way different donations are made and used, Skavdahl said that would be too much of a burden for the group.

“If the statute is written in such a way that organizations like WyGO are required to design specific bookkeeping systems to comply with the statute, it is not clearly written or narrowly tailored,” he wrote. “It is on the state of Wyoming to prove they have narrowly tailored the statute to meet their interests and putting the responsibility on WyGO to keep proper records does not meet that burden.”

Skavdahl also found a section of the law requiring the reporting of expenses which “relate to” campaign advertising to be unconstitutionally vague.

“By this broad phrase, nothing prevents the state of Wyoming from requiring disclosure of expenses spent on gas driving to the … radio station,” his ruling said. “A reasonable person could read the statue and have trouble deciphering what ‘relate to’ means.”

Dorr, in a video posting, said if the law had been allowed to stand, groups like Wyoming Gun Owners would not be able to share information on candidates.

“But if we let these bureaucrats muzzle us through these two tyrannical First Amendment attacks via campaign finance laws, we will lose our right to expose these people at election time,” he said. “And if that happens, it will directly begin to impact our gun rights in a very very, very negative way.”

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Bill To Prevent Federal Infringements On Gun Rights Introduced; WyGO Says It’s Not Enough

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A measure that would prohibit Wyoming officials using state money to enforce federal firearms restricts won initial Senate approval Thursday despite complaints from a Second Amendment advocacy group that it did not go far enough to protect gun owners.

Senate File 102, the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” was approved for introduction in the Senate by a vote of 21-9.

The measure is similar to others offered in the past designed to prevent law enforcement officers in Wyoming from enforcing federal measures that infringe on Second Amendment rights, said sponsor Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs.

Hicks, speaking in support of the bill’s introduction, said it was developed in cooperation with law enforcement, legislators and others over a three-month period.

“This is a sound bill that provides Wyoming citizens and Wyoming law enforcement the authority to push back (against) unconstitutional infringements on the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of the state of Wyoming,” he said.

The bill specifies that no Wyoming government entity can use state funds to enforce federal measures that are seen as infringing on the Second Amendment.

The measure was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

SF102 cleared its first Senate hurdle despite an attempt by Wyoming Gun Owners to generate support instead for an alternate bill, SF87, the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.”

SF87 specifies that federal acts and laws, such as new taxes on firearms and ammunition, will be considered unconstitutional in Wyoming and will have no effect in the state.

The bill, which opens with a lengthy legislative finding regarding Second Amendment freedoms, also calls for penalties against any governmental entity that tries to enforce federal gun laws.

The bill’s main sponsor is Sen. Anthony Bouchard. It had not been introduced in the Senate by Thursday and the deadline for the introduction of bills in the Senate was Friday.

Aaron Dorr of Wyoming Gun Owners, a vocal supporter of a similar bill sponsored by Bouchard in 2021, criticized the bill introduced in the Senate, urging listeners to his podcasts to contact legislators to encourage them to pass Bouchard’s bill instead.

Dorr said SF102 did not go far enough to protect gun owners.

“Our … bill, which is the best draft you’ll ever see here in Cheyenne, covers every single conceivable firearm, ammunition or accessory that you happen to own that touches on the Second Amendment,” he said.

Dorr criticized SF102 as giving too much authority to law enforcement officers and government officials as opposed to regular citizens.

“You have no enforcement for the citizens and no major civil penalties to serve as the … positive reinforcement to remind Wyoming law enforcement agencies not to violate (the act),” he said.

The bill would also allow the state to work with federal agencies and use federal money to enforce gun rules, Dorr said.

As a result, SF102 is an inferior bill to SF87, Dorr said.

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

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Al Simpson Blasts Wyoming Gun Owners Association (Wygo) And Dorr Brothers

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson isn’t one to shy away from controversial topics — and gun advocacy groups are about as controversial as they come these days.

On Cody’s local radio talk show “Speak Your Peace,” Simpson offered disparaging comments for the brothers who run the Second Amendment advocacy group Wyoming Gun Owners and similar groups in other states.

The groups have stirred up controversy by championing controversial legislation touted to protect the Second Amendment.

“They’ve been exposed as as absolute nut cases,” Simpson said of Aaron, Chris and Ben Dorr.

“They flood the airwaves … and there are people who’ve been knocked off who were Second Amendment people,” Simpson said, adding “They ought to be in prison.”

While on the radio show Tuesday, a Cody resident called in to ask Simpson about his stance on WyGO’s recent attack on Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police. In an April 1 post on the group’s Facebook page, Dorr called Oedekoven “a cancer on the Second Amendment here in Wyoming.”

Simpson defended Oedekoven, whom Dorr had accused of being anti-Second Amendment because he opposed a bill in the Wyoming Legislature called the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.”

Oedekoven was speaking on behalf of sheriffs in all 23 Wyoming counties in denouncing the bill, which WASCOP said would have tied the hands of law enforcement officers when investigating crimes by banning the seizure of weapons from anyone not convicted of a crime. The bill was defeated.

“He speaks for the peace officers,” Simpson pointed out. “Somebody has to speak for peace officers.”

While Wyoming Gun Owners began as a Wyoming group, founded by now-state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, its management now seems to be handled outside of Wyoming. The company’s listed address for an office is a Cheyenne post box in the office of a shipping company. Its mailing address is in California.

The group has become well known for targeting solid Republican lawmakers at the state and national level.

Simpson said any organizations associated with the Dorr brothers must be carefully examined.

“Wherever the Dorr brothers are, you’ll want to stay away from them,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. Friday, April 16, to correct the erroneous information that the Dorr brothers are involved in the group Gun Owners of America (GOA). While the brothers run several state Second Amendment advocacy groups, such as Wyoming Gun Owners, they are not connected with Gun Owners of America.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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WYGO Director: Second Amendment Preservation Act Is ‘Must Have’

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By The Center Square, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming legislators are looking to strengthen the state’s Second Amendment laws in the wake of President Joe Biden’s policies on gun control.

Elected on a strong gun control platform, Biden supports a national prohibition on high-capacity magazines, restrictions on firearm sales and laws that would make firearms manufacturers civilly liable for guns used in certain crimes.

So far, several pro-gun rights bills are in the works in Wyoming, including bills to repeal gun-free zones and eliminate residency requirements for concealed carry permits.

Another is the Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA), sponsored by Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne.

A version of this bill was narrowly defeated last year, but the new version has teeth, said Aaron Dorr, director of Wyoming Gun Owners.

Dorr said Biden has declared open season on gun owners and the Second Amendment, and SAPA is the “must-have” legislation for gun owners.

“The Preservation Act would state that all federal gun control laws are null and void here in Wyoming, and it would do that by requiring that all Wyoming’s peace officers, whether it’s state troopers, county deputies or city officers, could only enforce state law passed by the state legislature when it comes to guns, ammunition or accessories,” Dorr told The Center Square. “So this is no feel-good bill, this is a very serious effort on our part to nullify federal gun control.”

It also would allow for civil lawsuits against any official who upholds a federal law in opposition to a state law, according to Dorr.

Dorr said he hasn’t heard any arguments against SAPA’s constitutionality.

“The whole concept behind SAPA legislation is the anti-commandeering doctrine, which has been around for hundreds of years,” he said. “The idea, very simply, is the states are independent sovereign entities and they have an absolute right to enforce the laws of their own making, and the federal government does not have, and has never had, the right to simply commandeer the states’ legislative process and order the states to enforce federal law.”

This doctrine is upheld by a litany of Supreme Court rulings from 1842 to 2013 during the Obama administration, according to Dorr.

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Matt Micheli: Wyoming Needs Solutions, Not Anger

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By Matt Micheli, guest columnist
Former Chairman, Wyoming Republican Party

Last month I published an op-ed about the “alt-right” in Wyoming. I went to great lengths to explain that when I refer to the Wyoming alt-right, I am talking about people who focus primarily on anger, fear and division in political discourse.

I also made clear that this designation was not to any specific person or even groups of people but describes a mindset that can at different times apply to every single one of us. Indeed, my final paragraph read:

All of us can fall into the “alt-right” at different times. All of us are susceptible to be motivated by fear. All of us tend to believe things that fit our preconceived internal narrative.

The only way we overcome the influence of the alt-right is to continually ask ourselves if we are feeding the divide or if we are working towards solutions.

Whether we are giving into fear or actively working to improve our state. Whether we are listening to all voices critically to find the best ideas or shouting down anyone that dares think differently than us.

I am not asking anyone to compromise their political philosophies and ideals. That is the opposite of what I am talking about. Apply those ideals to our real problems and work towards a solution.

The alt-right mentality is a growing cancer in our state that is something all well-intended citizens of Wyoming should affirmatively work to extinguish.

That is it. That was the entire point of my op-ed. Politics based on fear and anger will not solve Wyoming’s $1.5 billion deficit.

Politics based on fear and anger will not keep our schools open or prevent us from seeing our taxes skyrocket.

The only way we avoid those types of outcomes is by rolling up our sleeves and working towards actual solutions.  Solutions – that is the point.  What solves problems?  How do we get beyond just anger and more anger, and more ugly political bullying?

Perhaps the most interesting part of my previous op-ed were the reactions from different people. The vast majority of the responses have been overwhelmingly positive.

I truly believe most people are good and most people want solutions for Wyoming. They want to be a part of keeping Wyoming’s conservative values strong BY PARTICIPATING in ideas for solutions to this state’s many challenges. 

However, if you read that op-ed and thought it was about somebody else, you completely missed the point. Also, if reading a political op-ed that called for all of us to work personally to stay away from insults and be more solution minded offended you, maybe you need to look yourself in the mirror.  

Each one of us needs to look at ourselves and make our own personal assessment. Are we just the angry bystander, or are we really going to step up and show our best ideas for a solution – civilly. 

The op-ed was not meant to point the finger at “those guys,” but was meant to point the finger at each of us, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum.

My favorite response, however, came from the out-of-state group that thrives on hate and division more than any other entity in Wyoming.

The Dorr brothers from Minnesota and Iowa have created an entity known as “Wyoming Gun Owners” (WyGO).

Using this entity, and similar entities in multiple states, the Dorr brothers have made a nice living by importing hate to those states.

That is why the NRA called them scam artists and why the Minnesota Republican Party dedicated a whole web page to exposing their scams (https://www.mnscammersexposed.com/)   

Read it. Google them. You will see their money scheme profiting off of division, fear and hate. 

Unfortunately, they have chosen to include Wyoming in their hate campaign.

Their response to my op-ed was a Facebook post saying “Matt Micheli… was and is a loser.” Awesome!

Then, they set about calling me all sorts of names contending I am a “liberal RINO,” which is hilarious.

This post and the related string of hate posts and the organized campaign from their out of state social media people, however, demonstrates my point exactly.

Ironically, the people behind WyGO could not care less about Wyoming.

Their kids don’t go to school here, they are never going to pay Wyoming taxes. They probably don’t even know what “Steamboat” is.

They care about one thing – creating controversy. Controversy gets people riled up and that means more money in their pockets. That is why they attack some of the most pro-gun legislators.

That is why when Ember Oakley, a strong conservative, pro-Trump, pro-gun, Republican county prosecutor comes to Cheyenne to fix significant problems with draft gun legislation and her work was instrumental in getting that legislation in a form that it could actually become law, WyGO makes up a fake controversy to attack Ember.

WyGO cares far more about controversy than Wyoming. That is precisely what I am talking about when I say the alt-right. Anger. Vitriol.  No responsibility because they are not Wyoming in the first place. 

I want all Wyoming voices to participate. I want Wyoming conservatives to engage in the debate.

I really want Wyoming conservatives to work on things that will actually help solve our fiscal crisis. Calling me a “loser” and a “RINO” is certainly not going to make sure Wyoming never gets an income tax.

Calling me names is not going to resolve our $1.5 billion deficit. But hey, profit off of attacking conservatives all you want, you are only proving my point.  

Meanwhile, we in Wyoming see through your scams. I have great confidence in the people of Wyoming to figure out solutions to our problems without interference from interlopers.

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Wyoming Gun Owners (WYGO) Slams Losing Candidates After Election

in News/politics
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A conservative pro-gun organization is trumpeting its victories in its efforts to defeat legislative candidates in last week’s primary election that it saw as too moderate.

Wyoming Gun Owners (WYGO) has posted items on its Facebook page throwing barbs at defeated legislative candidates including state Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, and Erin Johnson, a Republican who sought to unseat state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne.

“Senator Michael Von Flatern — you’re gonna have a lot more time to work on your cooking skills after that 64% – 36% shiner you took to the face (Tuesday) night,” read one posting, accompanied by a picture of Von Flatern baking. “Your mistake was in thinking that WYGO was like every other lobby group, that we would eventually want to play nice. We don’t want to play nice, we want to save our freedoms. You got in the way…..gun owners removed you.”

Von Flatern said he did not understand why WYGO was continuing to comment on candidates who were no longer in the race.

“I don’t have any idea why they’re doing it other than they want to prove a point,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “I would assume I’m done and they know that I’m done. They’re still attacking me because they’re vindictive. They won. They should just take it and go.”

Also targeted by WYGO was Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, who is in the middle of his four-year term.

WYGO mentioned Driskill’s support for Von Flatern and Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, who lost in his re-election bid.

“Folks rumor has it ole Oggy was alternating between sobbing and panic attacks all day today,” another posting said. “You see, the Lindholm House seat is half of Oggy’s Senate seat. And Lindholm lost after calling for a tax increase….the same one Oggy called for.”

Driskill said he found attacks against candidates after they lose the election to be in poor taste.

“To trash somebody after they’ve lost and they’ve graciously congratulated the winner, to kick dirt on them and to gloat over it is un-Christian and it’s unbelievably crass and it’s really a bad way to do politics,” he said.

Driskill, who has been a staunch defender of Second Amendment issues while a member of the Legislature, said he found it interesting he would be labeled as “anti-gun” by WYGO.

He added WYGO used his association with other lawmakers to cast doubt on their stances.

“I think it’s pretty sad that I endorse somebody and they call them a liberal and (the candidate has) never had a chance to cast a vote (on legislation),” he said. “They decide they want to call them a liberal for whatever reason. I call it character assassination.”

Lindholm said he has not seen such comments being made after an election.

“I’ve never seen a pile-on after a defeat,” he said. “Usually the person who is defeated concedes and the person who won comes out and says ‘Good race, let’s move on to the next one.’”

Lindholm added that because WYGO is a lobbying organization, it may have to work with some of the people it has criticized.

“The reality is you’re going to have to work with these people again,” he said. “With this organization coming out and still swinging their baseball bat shows kind of a lack of understanding on the part of that leadership.”

Driskill and Lindholm agreed such tactics are more common in other areas.

“They’re creating the same exact culture that Washington, D.C., has,” Driskill said. “You take somebody down and strip their dignity. When you do this character assassination, you divide everybody into camps and you make everything partisan.”

Johnson, who challenged Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, in his bid for re-election, was also criticized by WYGO after the primary.

“Erin…..if you have to assure people you’re not part of the swamp, you’re in trouble. Which is, umm, why you lost,” said a post written in response to a posting from Johnson that discussed the campaign. “WYGO has dealt with scum like you for over a decade…and we’ll be exposing scum like you for the next decade. Nice try….but gun owners can smell a fraud from 100 miles away. #LOSER.”

Britney Wallesch, a Democrat who will face Bouchard in the general election, also questioned the tactic in her own Facebook post.

“It’s not enough that she lost because of blatant lies, which the governor himself refuted, but they had to gloat over it, too,” she wrote. “We can know a man by who his friends are.”

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