Wyoming House panel advances 2 gun law measures

2013-01-29T06:00:00Z 2013-03-04T20:38:49Z Wyoming House panel advances 2 gun law measuresBy LAURA HANCOCK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

CHEYENNE — Concealed weapons may be allowed in city council and county commission meetings if an amendment to a gun bill is approved by the state Legislature.

The House Judiciary Committee heard two gun bills Monday, approving one about guns in courthouses and amending another about government meetings.

The committee room had at least two security guards during the meeting. That was to be expected.

House Speaker Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette, bundled controversial and social issues bills to be heard and debated in the House on Monday, today and Wednesday so that extra security could be hired. The gun bills were among the bundle. The committee will consider additional gun bills beginning at 8 a.m. today.

Guns at government meetings

House Bill 200 was originally written to allow people to carry concealed weapons into government meetings, except the Legislature, if the carrier received permission from the executive head of the entity holding the meeting. Open carry is currently legal.

But committee member Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville, amended the bill to lift all concealed carry restrictions at government meetings, except the Legislature.

After the bill was amended, the committee approved it.

Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell, introduced the bill after concern at the Cody City Hall.

Northrup said a person regularly attends city council meetings there with an open gun. That makes other people in Cody nervous, and they want to be able to carry concealed guns, he said.

“They feel like they’re sitting ducks in a courtroom,” Northrup said.

Jackson resident Maury Jones supported the bill. He believes “bad guys” will carry weapons regardless of the law.

“You need a good guy to stop the bad guy,” he said.

Jones said history proves concealed weapons shouldn’t be restricted.

“Every single mass shooting since 1950 except for Gabby Giffords’ has happened in a gun-free zone,” Jones said.

Kroeker said the government meetings bill is the beginning of a series bills the House will consider that look at changing the state’s concealed carry permit laws, which prohibit concealed weapons entirely or with some exceptions at jails, prisons, the state hospital, the Legislature, places of worship, colleges, bars, athletic events not related to firearms and other places where the federal government prohibits concealed weapons.

Guns in courtrooms

House Bill 216 would put into law the common practice now of banning deadly weapons from courtrooms in the state. Supporters say it would remove any doubt that weapons are not allowed in the courtroom.

The legislation would make it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years behind bars and a fine of up to $10,000, if someone takes a deadly weapon into a courtroom without prior permission of a judge.

“It basically gives the judge sole authority over the courtroom,” said Kroeker, a sponsor of the bill.

The bill clarifies the law, supporters say.

In recent years throughout the United States, some judges have believed they have “inherent authority” to ban weapons from their courtrooms, said Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, also a bill sponsor. County commissioners sometimes take issue with that, because counties maintain courthouses. The issue may eventually be taken before the U.S. Supreme Court. In Wyoming, legislators discussed one unnamed judge who is exercising what he believes is his authority to ban guns.

Meanwhile, the bill’s sponsors want a state statute to settle the matter, at least in the Cowboy State.

“I wanted to put it to rest in the courtroom,” Brown said, “only in the courtroom.”

Laramie County Judge Peter Arnold supported the bill, and said legislators should consider expanding a judge’s authority to the environs outside the courtroom.

“The likelihood of mischief is present in the immediate area outside the courtroom,” he said. “That’s where the witnesses, that’s where the parties come into close physical contact.”

Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, committee chairman and bill sponsor, said that some Wyoming courthouses, like one in Lander, don’t just have courtrooms but county offices.

“The courtrooms are mixed with the clerks and the treasurers, and it’s a hard building to secure,” he said.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. mcfromkc
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    mcfromkc - January 30, 2013 6:34 pm
    What is really interesting is that neither grouchy nor wyojeff bothered to do the 30 seconds of research it would have taken to prove that this is a false claim promoted in a chain e-mail. wyoming's version of dumb and dumber
  2. WyoJeff
    Report Abuse
    WyoJeff - January 30, 2013 1:07 pm
    That is VERY interesting. kinda like how the libs attempted to label the AZ Gifford's shooter as a tea party type, then also attempted to blame Sara Palin. Funny how they don't say anything about the info in your post.
  3. Grouchy
    Report Abuse
    Grouchy - January 30, 2013 7:23 am
    Here is some food for thought



    Why is it that none of the disturbed and evil men, who killed those unarmed military personnel, movie-goers, and children in school, has ever been identified as a politically conservative NRA member?

    Ft Hood~~~ Registered Democrat; Muslim; not an NRA member

    Columbine ~~~ Both too young to vote; but their families were registered Democrats; liberal-progressives; not NRA members

    Virginia Tech ~~~ Wrote hate mail to President Bush and his staff; registered Democrat; not an NRA member

    Colorado Theater ~~~ Staff worker for the Obama campaign; ‘Occupy Wall Street’ participant; registered Democrat; liberal-progressive; not an NRA member

    Connecticut School Shooter ~~~ Registered Democrat; hated Christians; not an NRA member

    Notice that the common thread among all these disastrous mass shootings is that all of the shooters were liberally inclined Democrats.

    INTERESTING, isn't it?

  4. glendorealist
    Report Abuse
    glendorealist - January 29, 2013 1:23 pm
    In a town like Glendo where violence to settle disagreements at government
    meetings seems to be endorsed, the last thing we need are people carrying
    concealed weapons. So far people that have been assaulted at government
    meetings have been able to walk away. When people no longer can debate
    an issue without it turning violent, and people will not take responsibility for
    their actions, there is no place for guns to be around at the time. Are other
    Wyoming towns like this or is Glendo unique?
  5. WyoJeff
    Report Abuse
    WyoJeff - January 29, 2013 1:16 pm
    The question itself is absurd. If you think an armed criminal who is facing a major felony and lots of time is prison is not dangerous, you are nuts. That is like saying Wyoming has not had a school shooting with an assault rifle in the last 30 years so we don't need to worry about it.
    The fact is gun free zones have become dangerous because it makes everyone an easy target. Kinda like the nail salon (who most would think is gun free) where a women with a gun stopped that crime. Or the hotel where another woman stopped that crime because she also had a gun. Guns in the hands of good people is a good thing.
  6. Nick M
    Report Abuse
    Nick M - January 29, 2013 11:33 am

    N3crix's question was as follows "Answer me this: Last time a Wyoming bank was involved in an open shootout where an armed customer of the bank used a gun for self defense?"

    I read the article you posted a link for word for word. No mention of any armed customers using a gun for self defense.

    Like to try again?
  7. pappy
    Report Abuse
    pappy - January 29, 2013 9:00 am
    This applies to every place but the legislature, where they have armed guards to insure no one gets out of line. Do they think city council meetings, county commissioner meetings, school board meetings or any other government meeting can't be contentious? This is Wyoming not Washington DC, what applies to others should apply to the legislature!
  8. WyoJeff
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    WyoJeff - January 29, 2013 8:15 am
    To answer your other question. We had an armed bank robbery just about 1 year ago.

  9. WyoJeff
    Report Abuse
    WyoJeff - January 29, 2013 8:06 am
    I will give it shot. No pun intended. These are gun free zones and that makes them dangerous areas. Banks are robbed by armed criminals. Also angry people carry guns into meeting and start shooting people.

    I would say I would be OK with a gun ban at these locations, only as long as they provide armed guard to protect those people in gun free areas. That has not always been the case. per the article- “Every single mass shooting since 1950 except for Gabby Giffords’ has happened in a gun-free zone.”

    If the government wants to make me go without a gun, then they should provide an armed guard. If they will not provide an armed guard to protect me then I should be allowed a gun and be able to protect myself. You know LIFE, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
  10. Grouchy
    Report Abuse
    Grouchy - January 29, 2013 7:58 am
    Because it is our constitutional right. Maybe the next thing is not allowing you to speak at a public meeting. I would much rather have armed citizens then people like you that want the public to be just a bunch of sitting ducks.
  11. N3crix
    Report Abuse
    N3crix - January 29, 2013 7:31 am
    Earlier on another post I asked whether it was 1813, 1913 or 2013. According to this article, its 1813. Do I even need to ask why we need guns in meetings and banks like this?

    Seriously, an Gun-Guy wanna answer me this: Last time a Wyoming bank was involved in an open shootout where an armed customer of the bank used a gun for self defense? Go ahead, Ill wait...
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