CHEYENNE - A bill that would allow firearms in elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities and sporting events on government-owned property passed the first vote in the Wyoming House Wednesday.

But that doesn’t mean the bill will become law without changes.

Retired school principal Rep. Jerry Paxton, R-Encampment, said the bill needs to be altered to allow school administrators to have input on who is carrying in their building.

Without it, “I’m not sure I can ensure the safety of my kids,” he said.

“If someone wants to bring a second-reading amendment, we can have a discussion about elementary and secondary schools,” said Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, a bill sponsor.

House Bill 105 was amended Wednesday to allow both concealed and open carry in schools as long as people have state-issued concealed carry permits. As originally written, it only allowed concealed carry.

Gingery felt especially committed to allowing firearms at sporting events. The Teton County deputy attorney said a man once entered his office and held him hostage because he didn't like how Gingery was pursuing a case.

“I had no way of protecting myself,” he said. “As soon as that incident happened, the chief of police said, ‘You need to own a gun.’”

Gingery said the man went to prison but he has friends. Gingery enjoys attending basketball games and current law prevents him from carrying his weapon in public facilities. Yet the chances he could run into one of the man’s friends at a sporting event is high because such events swim with people, he said.

Chris Boswell, lobbyist for the University of Wyoming, said after the House vote that the university administration is concerned about the prospect of losing its authority to maintain its current policy of prohibiting students from carrying weapons either openly or concealed.

"I believe the trustees, through the regulation, have indicated that the risks may outweigh the benefits of allowing guns to be carried on the university campus," Boswell said, adding that the university has a police force.

Courtrooms

The House passed House Bill 216 on first reading, which would allow judges to decide who can have a deadly weapon in a courtroom.

Rep. Matt Teeters, R-Lingle, was concerned about small courthouses. “If somebody walks into city hall and they’re paying a utility bill, I don’t want them to get a $10,000 fine” because they’re carrying a weapon when a judge has prohibited it.

“I would say it’s a courtroom when the judge is presiding, and not a courtroom when the judge is not presiding,” said Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, a sponsor of the bill. "I’d be amenable to a second-reading amendment.”

The bill is necessary because in the absence of state law, judges are using “inherent authority” to decide whether to ban weapons, Gingery said.

Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, thought the entire bill was ridiculous. He felt compelled to speak against it.

“I don’t really like the bill but I think we’ve already made up our minds,” he said. “So this is more of an exercise in government.”

State pre-emption

The House passed on first reading House Bill 103, which gives gun regulation to the state Legislature and not cities, towns or counties.

Some places, like Casper, have passed weapons restrictions that are different than state law, said Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville.

“You don’t want a hodgepodge of laws across the state,” he said.

The bill was amended to allow communities to prohibit the discharge of firearms to assist places like Sublette County, which prohibits discharging because of the large amount of migrating wildlife. Another amendment keeps guns and private property intact.

“You still can have shooting ranges and those, the towns and counties still regulate,” said Gingery, a bill sponsor.

Federal law

The House gave initial approval to a bill that would make it a felony to enforce stricter federal gun regulations created after last month's elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn. -- but not after discussion about the Civil War, Colorado and marijuana.

House Bill 104 would prohibit public servants from enforcing any federal law or presidential executive order that limits the size of magazines and firearms or ban semi-automatic weapons – measures President Barack Obama called for after the Connecticut shootings.

Kroeker reminded the House of the Second Amendment.

“We take an oath to protect the Constitution,” he said.

The federal government has clearly infringed on the public’s right to bear arms, he said.

There is precedent of federal agents being tried for breaking state laws, said Gingery, who sponsored a successful amendment that would make the punishment in HB104 a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

It can be done, he said. The trial takes place in federal court, he added.

To critics who said it’s unconstitutional to try to trump federal law, Gingery pointed out the marijuana law in Colorado.

“Colorado has said we don’t care about federal law, and the federal government has decided just to let it go,” Gingery said. “The current administration has shown they’re not going to get into these battles with states.”

But Rep. Mary Throne, R-Cheyenne, disagreed with Gingery’s history. She said nullification is part of U.S. tradition, but in the 1860s it led to the Civil War.

She also disagreed with Gingery's comparison to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

“The Colorado situation is a referendum, not a legislative initiative,” Throne said. “Also, that certainly hasn’t been litigated."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(11) comments

bane of trout
bane of trout

This is satire, right?

Uinta
Uinta

I am appalled that this many legislators are unable to apply logic to a situation. They state that gun violence has happened in gun-free school zones. Therefore we need to get rid of gun-free school zones. This statement is so bizarre that I can't even comment on it. I don't know if they're showing their lack of intelligence or their lack of education.

Big Evan Diehl
Big Evan Diehl

Gun Free School Zones never are. This theory turned our schools into massacre magnets. It's time to do something different. Gun Free School Zones is an example of "left-think" at its finest.

WyoJeff
WyoJeff

Years ago the people in the US could mail order their guns or just drop by the local hardware store and buy a gun. I remember fellow students bringing guns to school. Many had them in their pick ups so they could go hunting after school. I also remember students bringing guns to shop class and making new stocks for their hunting rifles. For about 200 years, guns have been everywhere in America and we did not see school shootings. So I ask you, what has changed? Why didn't we have school shooting back then when guns were even more available? Only in the last 20-30 years have we seen school shooting? If guns were the problem, it should have been a problem back then too. Maybe people should educate themselves about American gun history.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwUekmQ7iss

Big Evan Diehl
Big Evan Diehl

Chris Boswell, lobbyist for the University of Wyoming,....
------

I am PAYING UW to employ a lobbyist?????????????

What the hell is wrong with this world? UW should serve Wyoming and do it according to whatever the legislature says!
.

wyo-first Amendment victim-gun rights

In 2006, when I opposed the fascist NRA/ Wyoming legislature gun bill that (since 2011) allows any hate-filled or mentally ill moron- from anywhere in America- to pack a concealed weapon:
I was first threatened in email (facilitated by PARK COUNTY REP. JONES) form a teacher at the college in Powell who wrote, "You're dangerous and I carry". According to the Park County Sheriff, the man did not even have a concealed permit. Then,m DCI Deputy Director Kebin Haller ( a serial police terrorist for DCI: http://www.LaserRadio.com/subject.pdf ) anonymously called me from his (blocked) office phone: violating two state laws. When I captured the evidence of this sick jerk, GOV MEAD sent two armed DCI killers to my house to "Get on the same page" http://www.LaserRadio.com/forrest.wav. These killers tried for almost two hours to tamper with me as a witness, incite me to arrest (for interfering with my own witness tampering) and then were prepared to execute me in my own living room to protect diclosure that Kebin Haller is a right wing police terrorist, that DCI is a political Mukhabarat and that they can rely on fascist "leadership" in Wyoming to protect them. I've since done 50 interviews, statewide, about DCI. A former Wyoming AG says the gimmick they use to shield their law breaking from the AG is "ongoing investigation". Wyoming is a hate-filled cesspool of elitism, fascist/corporate benefits and has leadership willing to kill citizens (I've since been attacked by DCI on I-80 in unmarked cars). I spit on the WYGO and DCI and the NRA. I remember when "Wyoming values" meant you had a DUTY TO HELP someone stranded on the highway, and could be charged with manslaughter if they froze to death because you did not stop to help. DCI will surely come back to my house to threaten me for writing again (as in 2006 and 2011, when I laughed at the killers and closed my front door). Spit

WyoJeff
WyoJeff

Your wrong. Then NRA and the Wyoming legislature do not support allowing any mentally ill person with a gun. You need to get your facts straight. You also need to look into the laws in Wyoming regarding duty to help. you might learn something.

WyoJeff
WyoJeff

Guns in schools works! we had proof again yesterday... read the last paragraph

ATLANTA (AP) — A student opened fire at his middle school Thursday afternoon, wounding a 14-year-old in the neck before an armed officer working at the school was able to get the gun away, police said.

Multiple shots were fired in the courtyard of Price Middle School just south of downtown about 1:50 p.m. and the one boy was hit, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said. In the aftermath, a teacher received minor cuts, he said.

The wounded boy was taken “alert, conscious and breathing” to Grady Memorial Hospital, said police spokesman Carlos Campos. Grady Heath System Spokeswoman Denise Simpson said the teen had been discharged from the hospital Thursday night. Campos said charges against the shooter were pending.

Police swarmed the school of about 400 students after reports of the shooting while a crowd of anxious parents gathered in the streets, awaiting word on their children. Students were kept at the locked-down school for more than two hours before being dismissed.

Investigators believe the shooting was not random and that something occurred between the two students that may have led to it.

Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis said the school does have metal detectors.

“The obvious question is how did this get past a metal detector?” Davis asked about the gun. “That’s something we do not know yet.”

The armed resource officer who took the gun away was off-duty and at the school, but police didn’t release details on him or whether he is regularly at Price. Since 20 children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December, calls for armed officers in every school have resonated across the country.

Nick M
Nick M

You bet guns in schools works; when, as in this instance, they are in the hands of trained, qualified, certified, and resourced police officers.

WyoJeff
WyoJeff

If you read the story it only allows state issued conceal carry permit holders to carry guns. You must have gun training to get a State issued CCP Glad to see you coming around.

Nick M
Nick M

WyoJeff

Did you overlook my reference to "police officers?" It's really a moot point now, anyway. Your bill is stone dead and there isn't a damned thing you can do about it, is there?

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