Wyoming lawmakers renew challenge to feds on gun control

2013-02-28T06:00:00Z 2013-03-18T18:48:05Z Wyoming lawmakers renew challenge to feds on gun controlBy KYLE ROERINK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

After failed attempts to pass legislation defending Wyoming from federal gun laws, lawmakers in Cheyenne got crafty.

With an incendiary Senate amendment, they transformed a bill about hunting licenses into a bill preventing the federal government from regulating high-powered rifles in the state.

Some lawmakers called the move bogus. Others called it unconstitutional. But the bill passed the Legislature and now heads to Gov. Matt Mead’s desk.

The original intent of House Bill 41 was to reduce the state’s bison population from 900 to 500. The bill calls for lifting the number of bison hunters can kill from one per lifetime to one every five years.

The legislation passed without controversy in the House. But the provocative Senate amendment turned the bill's contents into a hot issue during the Legislature’s final days.

 “This was the only opportunity we had left to look at the rules and say, ‘what can we do?’” said Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs. “We got creative to stand up for the people of Wyoming on Second Amendment rights.”

The bill sets aside $250,000 for the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office to sue the federal government if it passes a law that would limit Wyomingites' ability to hunt big game, said amendment sponsor Sen. Charlie Scott, R-Casper.

“The amendment protects ownership, purpose and use,” he said.

Wyoming law only limits the caliber size of guns used for hunting.

If the Obama Administration regulates caliber size, it would be break Wyoming law and limit citizens’ rights to hunt, said Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton.

“You could use an AR-15 to hunt bison if it’s chambered with a .308,” Hicks said.

Lawmakers questioned the constitutionality because the bill addresses two separate titles: bison licenses and gun laws.

The Wyoming Constitution allows only one subject per bill, said Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson.

With the amendment, the bill isn’t constitutional, said Sen. Phil Nicholas during a Senate floor debate on Tuesday.

“I don’t think talking about hunting bison and the Second Amendment are the same thing,” said Sen. Wayne Johnson, R-Cheyenne. “There were more than two subjects in that bill. So I voted no.”

Even though the bill’s title and its effects are on opposite ends of the spectrum, Scott was optimistic that the bill could stand on its own in a court of law.

“The courts have given the legislature wide latitude in determining constitutionality of this sort of thing,” Scott said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “I think the nexus of licensing buffalo hunting is adequate to sustain this bill.”

Before he signs the bill, the governor will have to weigh the issue of constitutionality versus its preemptive intent.

The governor’s office will conduct a legal review before it’s decided whether or not it becomes law, said Renny MacKay, communications director for Mead.

The original purpose of this bill was to lower hunting fees, said Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan.

“Does that mean that every licensing bill that comes forward should have additional appropriations on it or something that doesn’t have anything to do with license fees?” He said.

Pro-gun lobbyists were critical of the amendment.

“It makes no sense,” said Bob Wharff, executive director of Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. “They said it was germane to pass, but at the same time it’s unconstitutional. It drives me nuts.”

Opponents say that lawmakers who voted against pro-gun bills this session are using the legislation as a crutch for their next campaign.

“This is the kind of thing where we try to hoodwink the constituents,” said Sen. John Schiffer, R-Kaycee.

He was upset that the amendment is set to expire in 2014, leaving the attorney general without funds for litigation.

“The amendment makes this bill a sham,” Schiffer said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

A firearm amendment doesn’t belong in a bill about bison, said Anthony Bouchard, executive director of Wyoming Gun Owners Association.

“This kind of stuff happens on the floor because leadership killed the bills that would have protected Wyoming from the federal government,” he said. “This amendment is a byproduct of that.”

Last week a bill that would have nullified federal laws regulating guns died in the Senate. The bill would have made executive orders and other federal actions unenforceable and would have given the state authority to arrest federal law enforcement officers.

 “With the amendment they were trying to do something more appropriate,” Johnson said. “But it messed up the bill.”

The amendment signified the ongoing tension between the Senate and House. When it returned to the House for a concurrence vote on the amendment, many legislators were skeptical.

House lawmakers castigated the Senate for sneaking the gun legislation and the $250,000 appropriation in the bill.

“I see this type of thing happening in D.C.,” said Rep. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne.

In politics, the amendment is known as a rider.

“One of the great things about the integrity of the Wyoming Legislature is that we don’t put on riders,” Gingery said. “There are members of the House that were frustrated that the Senate would do this.”

House Speaker Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette, called the amendment a political statement and a poison pill.

He urged lawmakers to keep the bill alive.

It passed 49 to 11.

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

(35) Comments

  1. TheTruth100
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    TheTruth100 - March 03, 2013 7:27 pm
    pappy you are not only misinformed you must be a memeber of Biodiversity Conservation Alliance or Western Watershed Project. Both enviromental extremist groups other wise you would not proport the lies you have put on this web page regarding Hicks SHeep bill. pappy- clueless might be a beter handle. As for Sassy you must be a coolaid drinker, you should really fact check your information regarding peoples occupations. Your suggestion of Hicks occupation is blatanly flase consequently your credibility on this site is 0%.
  2. Sassy
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    Sassy - March 03, 2013 7:28 am
    Don you lost me??
  3. donholmes
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    donholmes - March 02, 2013 12:47 pm
    There was nothing said about a .223 cal rifle. It said a .308 cal in a rifle.Also a gun ammendment was needed as every Democrat and Republican infiltrators are trying to confiscate All arms ,what the hell are you going to hunt with,a bow and arrows ?
    Also sence political manovers were mentioned, if compromise was abolished we would have a more honest Government.
  4. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - March 02, 2013 7:39 am
    Nicky, you bring up a good point regarding British statesman Edmund Burke in your response. You're correct, and thanks for correcting me in the time frame. As British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried appeasing Hitler.
    As it was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.(that used Burke's famous saying - that still rings true today) after Winston Churchill. succeeded British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. World War II had just ended in May of 1945 when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was attributed for using that same comment regarding Hitler and the Jewish Community.

    The rest of my comment was in regards to when folks don't realize evil or bad things are taking place and do nothing, then bad things will remain an flourish.
    Again, thanks for pointing out British statesman Edmund Burke,. “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.” --- comment. And Churchill's reference to why the Holocaust happened.

    Have a nice day :)
  5. Nick M
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    Nick M - March 01, 2013 7:57 pm

    Just a couple of points about Burke. Serious scholars dispute that your quote - and there are many versions of it floating around - came from Burke. (But by all means, go ahead and trot out your shake-and-bake sources that say it was his, bearing in mind that I said serious scholars.)

    But even if he did say it, Burke died in 1797. By my calculations, that’s about 140-odd years before the Holocaust.

    As for the rest of your post; well, it’s just scrambled-up, ungrammatical babble. I can’t comment on something that makes no sense.
  6. Big Evan Diehl
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    Big Evan Diehl - March 01, 2013 6:40 pm
    This little bill won't matter either way. Our "status quo" Republicans killed all the important pro-gun bills.

    With Republicans like ours, who needs Democrats?
  7. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - March 01, 2013 8:23 am
    Good to hear from you and I can understand how you may see things - pejoratively being in this case cause of lack in understanding.

    There was a famous quote once said ~British statesman Edmund Burke
    “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.”
    Therefore with a nation of (supposed free people) to government themselves:
    If 'good people' are doing nothing does that make them any better than those, 'bad people' who are doing something? The quote should be, 'Evil flourishes when good people wait.' - this quote was made in reference to the Holocaust that many, today deny even happened.

    Well I'd say, to those of you that will not speak, remain quiet - including you, Nicky
    Have a nice day :)
  8. Nick M
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    Nick M - February 28, 2013 9:57 pm
    Supercal, you are elevating obtuseness to an Olympic level.

    The money - all $250,000 - has been appropriated from the general fund. That’s public money, taxpayer’s money, every nickel of it. You can babble on in your tortuous, convoluted, garbled circles all you like, but these wingnuts in the Legislature are trying to put the state on the hook for a quarter of a million dollars.

    Do you have any clue what the ramifications are here? IF the proposed gun legislation gets through Congress and is enacted and some goober gets himself busted trying to claim his .223 AR-15 is a buffalo gun, he’ll run to the nearest ambulance chaser who will start tapping into the appropriation in a very big way and Wyoming’s taxpayers will be footing the bill while the goober and his mouthpiece laugh all the way to the bank.

    And I doubt if you have any notion about the biggest irony of all: “Federal Interference on Wyoming Public Lands?” I’ve got a bulletin for you, Sherlock. There are no huntable free-range bison in Wyoming that are NOT on FEDERAL LAND.

    You’re being played for a sucker, Supercal, but you’re too dumb to know it.
  9. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - February 28, 2013 8:33 pm
    It apparent you do not understand the concept of pork-barrel spending.
  10. glendorealist
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    glendorealist - February 28, 2013 7:55 pm
    Looks like just a play a words. If the money is set aside to be available for a specific purpose then its an expenditure. The money set aside is taxpayer money.
    This is still pork.
  11. Toy
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    Toy - February 28, 2013 7:38 pm
    It just scares the crap out of me and pisses me off that our own legislators haven't even read the WYOMING CONSTITUTION!!!
  12. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - February 28, 2013 7:26 pm
    This is money not to spend as pork barrel spending but, in case the federal government attempts to stifle hunting to Wyomingites. Therefore, its apparent that these are funds available and not expenditures for the event of a Federal Government over reach to Wyomingites Constitutional Bill of Rights.

    Here it is
    "There is appropriated two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000.00) from the general fund to the attorney general's office. This appropriation shall only be
    expended for the purpose of protecting or defending the rights of Wyoming citizens under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution to possess and use any firearm legal pursuant to Wyoming law and useful in hunting bison, including defending against any executive orders which would limit the ability of Wyoming citizens to hunt or manage bison"

    This is money available not just to spend for an emergency judicial complaint regarding Federal Interference on Wyoming/Public lands.
    No pork here. :) and thanks for the referral link.
  13. perfo
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    perfo - February 28, 2013 5:53 pm
    My sentiments exactly, MasterGunny.
  14. Sassy
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    Sassy - February 28, 2013 5:24 pm
    Maybe this will be of some help - HB 41

    Look at the second page- section 2

  15. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - February 28, 2013 4:57 pm
    The articles reads The bill sets aside $250,000 for the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office to sue the federal government if it passes a law that would limit Wyomingites' ability to hunt big game, said amendment sponsor Sen. Charlie Scott, R-Casper - this is only for potential litigation only.

    No other money is spent elsewhere as you come across to claim.
  16. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - February 28, 2013 4:54 pm
    Please don't tell me, show me in the bill about to be signed. Please give me the state link for that bill, as glendorealist claims the same without proof.
  17. Nick M
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    Nick M - February 28, 2013 3:40 pm

    The $250,000 will come out the state's general fund. That's taxpayer money.
  18. glendorealist
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    glendorealist - February 28, 2013 2:34 pm
    Re-read the article. This bill sets aside $250,000 for the attorney general.
  19. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - February 28, 2013 1:45 pm
    I did not read $250,000.00 in this report.
    Do you have proof that this bill cost the tax payers?
  20. glendorealist
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    glendorealist - February 28, 2013 1:03 pm
    pork is any rider to a bill that to get the rider passed whether it has anything to do with the amendment or not. And maybe not to 'supercalifragilistic', but $250,000 is not
    chump change to me. This is pure pork. Wyoming is known as the 'pork state' now
    just like the other 49. Nothing special about Wyoming now.
  21. MasterGunny
    Report Abuse
    MasterGunny - February 28, 2013 12:38 pm
    Invest in a good 45-70, or a 30-30 or 30-06 - you can always retrieve the fallen "Assault Weapon" after the fact.....just sayin' know...push comes to shove...Legislators bend to pressure to save face or whatever they're trying to save...government flexes it's muscle...anarchy ensues...just sayin'
  22. Marnie
    Report Abuse
    Marnie - February 28, 2013 12:29 pm
    Au contraire dcooper. Far more shocking if our "esteemed" legislators quit trying to grandstand and focused on the real problems our state has.

    (By the way, SBX 211 is little more than just the opinion of the author, and as my Grandad used to say "opinions are like assholes, we all have one". I won't sign it.)
  23. Sassy
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    Sassy - February 28, 2013 10:49 am
    Glendo- when you say "we" do you have a mouse in "your" pocket???

    I would say "they" = legislators are hypocrites.

    Fact is the legislators are coming home empty handed on 103, 104 and 105 Senator Phil Nicholas made sure of that. As they were packing their bags to come home, they decided to throw this rider on the "buffalo" license bill in an attempt to say they really didn't agree with Phil's antics - but it was the best they could do....
  24. dcooper
    Report Abuse
    dcooper - February 28, 2013 10:36 am
    Send a shock wave to Dianne Feinstein and the extreme left. Sign the petition to repeal Senate Bill SBX211. When the entire Los Angeles Superior Court Judges face felony charges for accepting money that was NOT authorized by law. That should put them back on their heels for a while.
    Google SBX211 and sign the petition. COMPLETE MAINSTREAM MEDIA BLACKOUT, Please help telling others to sign.
  25. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - February 28, 2013 10:30 am
    This bill about to be signed, bares no cost to the tax payer, so you might want to rethink your comment. When politicians in DC and the media talk about "pork" they are referring to tax $dollars, written into legislation, approved by DC law makers and the President.
  26. kakie
    Report Abuse
    kakie - February 28, 2013 10:08 am
    there are some people from Wy still think its the wild wild west shooting cowboys and indians fact the whole country thinks we need to cowboy up. better think agin and putting extra money in the works If the Feds dont give i us money for needed programs the state will get it one way or another .
  27. Completely Fed Up
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    Completely Fed Up - February 28, 2013 9:37 am
    The Wyoming Legislature: a collection of halfwits.
  28. Pops
    Report Abuse
    Pops - February 28, 2013 8:36 am
    One more example of a state trying to establish their local control through a "slight of hand", manipulative maneuver.
  29. glendorealist
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    glendorealist - February 28, 2013 8:26 am
    This just sounds like 'pork'. I thought in Wyoming we were against adding pork to legislation?
    Isn't adding pork spending , one way the federal spending got so big. I guess people in Wyoming are no better then anyone else in other states. We are hypocrites also.
  30. Sassy
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    Sassy - February 28, 2013 8:19 am
    Hicks is a sheepman in the area- need I say more......
  31. pappy
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    pappy - February 28, 2013 8:13 am
    Wyoming has come a long ways, no we get junk passed the same way they do in Washington DC. Has anyone seen any legislation sponsored by Hicks that isn't totally off the wall. Remember this is the guy who passed a bill to wipe out the Bighorn Sheep herd in the Encampment River if the courts rule there is a conflict between domestic and bighorn sheep.
  32. supercalifragilistic
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    supercalifragilistic - February 28, 2013 7:18 am
    I applaud the creativity this Legislative session by removing more "politically correct by liberally staged ways" out Wyomingites lives. I expect the Governor to acknowledge and support this to become law. As this bill allows for any caliber "high powered" rifles to be used, in which a hand gun would not do the job.

    A agree with Sassy, I still do not know what Supt. Hill did wrong. Why were the detailed reasons for such a move, not publicly disclosed?

  33. Sassy
    Report Abuse
    Sassy - February 28, 2013 6:55 am
    You called it.. they will blame the 62nd on the youngsters..
  34. Reason
    Report Abuse
    Reason - February 28, 2013 6:39 am
    What a cluster this legislative session has been, from beginning to end. I know there are at least 13 freshmen legislators, but what's the excuse for the others who have been there a few years? Where is their common sense and statesmanship? This messy bill is a perfect example of the messy legislation that has taken pace this session. I'm glad this session is nearly over so they can't screw things up even further.
  35. Sassy
    Report Abuse
    Sassy - February 28, 2013 6:17 am
    Sen Hicks a .308 built on AR platform is a AR 10 not an AR 15. BTW the term "AR" is trademarked by Armalite is this reference the .308 is a 7.62mm.

    Sen Nicholas- the bill is not constitutional?? that is the pot calling the kettle black- after what you and your buddy Hank did to Superintendent Hill.

    Obviously the Majority of the Senate did not believe Nicholas did the right thing by holding the original bill back off the floor- So they got "creative" and did an end run or a "rider" on another bill
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