Wyoming Gun Owners, a Cheyenne-based organization that isn't afraid to call out Republicans by name for not supporting its views on gun rights, asked legislative candidates whether they will force recorded votes on gun issues, even if their party leadership or colleagues protest.
"We will assume that a failure to answer any or all of the questions indicates an opposition to gun owners' rights, and will report it as such," an introduction letter attached to the 11-question survey states. "Caveats also indicate an unwillingness to follow WyGO's lead to protect citizens' rights."
Lawmakers contacted by the Star-Tribune, both Republicans and Democrats, did not want to speak on the record about the survey because of their ill feelings toward the organization's confrontational leader, Anthony Bouchard, who attacked a lawmaker's stance on gun rights by mocking the alleged size of his penis during a heated gun debate in 2013.
Lawmakers also claim he has misrepresented their stances on his group's Facebook page.
Bouchard, who is also running for the Wyoming Senate as a Republican, did not return a message from the Star-Tribune.
"He's a whack-a-doodle," said Rep. Jim Byrd, D-Cheyenne, who doesn't remember if he received Bouchard's survey this year. If he did, he tossed it into the recycling, he said.
Byrd completed Bouchard's survey in 2008, when he was a first-time candidate. But he never completed any subsequent surveys after he witnessed Bouchard's beliefs and tactics, he said.
"They do not represent mainstream gun owners in the state of Wyoming," said Byrd, who said he is a gun owner. "Their views are way too radical. I grew up in Wyoming. Bouchard didn't. He has no reference points as to how you grow up in a society with a gun in the truck, a rifle in a rifle rack. And back then, they were all loaded."
Bouchard has previously said he moved to Wyoming from Fresno, California. Byrd believes Bouchard's insistence on carrying weapons in places such as public buildings is paranoid.
"The only time you'll see my guns is when we take them to the range or when we go hunting," he said. "I don't feel Wyoming is that dangerous that I need to carry a sidearm."
The survey's introduction states that the questions will inform Wyomingites of candidates' general views on gun rights.
"A warning: We expect legislators to live up to their word," the introduction to the survey says.
Among the questions:
- Will you support legislation to give law-abiding citizens the right to carry their weapons in more places like government buildings, except courtrooms but including the Capitol, to protect themselves and loved ones from criminals?
- Will you support legislation like Utah's, which simply allows Wyoming's most trusted citizens, people who have submitted to a background check, to carry concealed on Wyoming public school and college campuses?
- Will you force tough, recorded votes on gun issues, despite the protests of leadership or colleagues within your own party?
"He's trying to out-right the NRA," Byrd said. "He's trying to prove his group is more grass-roots, more hard-core and uncompromising than the NRA."
At this time of year, candidates get inundated with surveys from interest groups, Byrd said.
Some of the interest groups aren't even based in Wyoming, he said.
"They're looking to tap into a specific group of people that are a very small number of people here in Wyoming, if they're here at all," he said. "The only thing it serves is putting me out there and having some vulnerability."