Guns: selling them, taking them to city council meetings and manufacturing them were all topics the Star-Tribune editorialized on in 2013. In today’s Page 1 “Look Back” feature, we learn about efforts to bring gun manufacturers to the state because of its gun attitudes as well as business-friendly approach. The legislative session produced wide-ranging ideas on where guns belong in our society.
We wrote about whether teachers should be armed, if the state should enforce federal regulations and many more ways of thinking about what the Second Amendment means to Wyoming citizens.
Jan 19 — More guns
Jeers to having to beef up security at the Capitol to merely talk about things like gun control. So, if you’re keeping score at home: We have to have more police officers with guns in order to talk about people having more guns so that the people with guns don’t make threats.
Feb. 3 — Gun gluttony stopped
Wyoming scored a victory Tuesday when the state’s House of Representatives shot down a number of gun initiatives, one of which would have allowed guns at any government meeting.
It’s not that we think there should be more restrictions on guns. We believe Wyoming has solid gun laws that strike a balance between gun rights and public protection.
The author of the bill, Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville, introduced the bill and it seemed to be in retaliation for Casper and other government officials who don’t necessarily fancy the idea of guns at meetings or in the courthouse.
We thank the House for quietly killing the bill as it got to first reading. We believe that while Kroeker and his advocates see the bill as solidifying Second Amendment rights, it also could allow guns into meetings which, on occasion, run hot with emotions. High emotions and well-armed citizens don’t always mix well.
We believe that many of the representatives who love guns also understand there is a proper place for them — and government meetings or buildings may not be the right venue.
Feb. 12 — More security — not necessarily more guns — needed in schools
Lawmakers should be thanked for showing restraint when it came to putting more guns in schools.
A push to have more people carry guns in school is not just some Wyoming twist on gun safety. The notion of arming teachers, residents or putting more law enforcement in school is a movement that’s gained more traction and acceptance nationwide.
We believe putting more guns in schools is the wrong answer to the question of school safety — whether that’s this year or next.
The primary purpose of teachers is education. That is, after all, the primary function of schools. So, trying to make teachers sharpshooters or the “lite” version of a school resource officer seems to be misguided.
Teachers go to college and learn to become teachers. Police go to college or law enforcement academies to learn how to become police. Each job is essential, and each job is unique. Mixing them is asking too much of a teacher.
March 8 — If we need more gun laws, let’s get them right
We understand the sentiment of not wanting guns banned, taken away or restricted. They are a ubiquitous part of our state.
And yet writing laws in an attempt to nullify future federal gun regulations seems like the wrong way to give voice to residents’ frustration.
And isn’t it more than a bit ironic that a bunch of people who sit around making laws want nullify laws that other lawmakers have created? Talk about a lack of professional courtesy, if nothing else.
The irony is that the nullification bills are coming from exactly the people who should know better, lawmakers. Good cleanly written laws can truly shape society.
When asked to defend the bills that would almost assuredly fail in court, lawmakers said the bills, if passed, wouldn’t really change anything. Instead, these bills are meant as a sign of protest.
But protesting by putting more laws on the book seems like an odd way to make a point. Wouldn’t it be more effective to lobby our federal representatives? If lawmakers are so concerned with our ability to own nearly any type of gun, shouldn’t they be testifying or lobbying federal lawmakers?
We praise lawmakers, for example Sen. Phil Nicholas, R-Laramie, who stopped what was simply bad legislation.
It wasn’t necessarily bad legislation because the ideas were bad. Yet, the methodology – nullifying federal law – has a dubious history and is built on very shaky legal ground.
Guns are important to Wyoming. And that’s why if they are truly that hallowed, then we owe it to residents who care so deeply to make sure we write laws that are effective and can withstand judicial review.
We’ve said previously that we’re not sure Wyoming needs more gun laws. That’s a big if. But if it does indeed need more gun laws, than our lawmakers owe it to the residents of this state to get it right — to pass more than just protest votes.
Better yet: Maybe local lawmakers could demonstrate how to effectively lobby federal leaders for better laws.
April 9 — Fix the problem, fund the solution
As the issue of gun control and violence has appeared again, it’s raised a lot of questions about gun laws, gun control and the Second Amendment.
One issue that’s gotten some coverage within the media is mental health and violence. That is: The only commonality these acts of horrible violence have in common is that they are perpetuated by people who have obvious mental illness. In other words, no mentally healthy person would decide to open fire on innocent, unsuspecting victims.
We’ve said previously that we don’t believe passing more gun laws is going to be helpful. There are already plenty of laws that make murder and massacre illegal. More laws aren’t suddenly going to stop someone hellbent on violence.
While more gun laws aren’t necessarily the remedy to this cultural ill, it would also be irresponsible not to at least consider the place of guns in our lives. That is, while making more laws might not be appropriate, we also believe we should try to guard against making it so easy to get a hold of a gun that there ceases to be any safeguards against a rash decision in the heat of a moment. The first lesson of almost any gun safety course is the realization and understanding that a gun — in careless or careful hands — is deadly.
Still, ensuring public safety goes beyond just talk of guns and laws. Many have said the problem is one of mental health. And, it seems that might be a much more effective and powerful way of tackling the violence that seems so common and yet so shocking.
If any common strain can be found in these random, unconnected events, it’s the mental illness that has accompanied the shooters and, in many cases, the pleas for help the preceded them.
We believe that lawmakers — both on the state and federal level — must start tackling ways to address the mental health issues.
April 11 — Bully nonsense: Gun owners should decry group’s tactics
(Some gun) lobbyists and groups went out of their way to humiliate, degrade and undermine lawmakers who did not agree. Then, the Wyoming Guns Owners Association is shocked when they don’t get their way.
Reasonable gun owners should be the first decrying this sort of bully nonsense. They should be the first hopping on the phones, email and Internet to tell lawmakers that a bunch of fanatics certainly does not speak for the thousands of reasonable gun owners.
Think about it: Why in the world would lawmakers want to relax the gun laws when this is the kind of off-kilter logic behind it? Really, should lawmakers rush to make owning guns easier for people who would make these kinds of threats and comments?
Anger, threats and guns don’t mix well.
There is still one bit of good that can come from this very twisted ordeal: This particular gun debate and what it disintegrated into should be a low mark. This was too much. Next year, let’s keep to the issues and quit attacking the people.
May 3 — Wyoming Senators can do more than filibuster gun debate
Don’t blame the U.S. Senate’s recent failure to adopt legislation expanding gun sale background checks on a do-nothing Congress.
The Senate’s inaction was the result of action: A well-orchestrated filibuster supported by 46 senators, primarily Republicans including Wyoming Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, and rural-state Democrats.
Instead of throwing up roadblocks in the form of filibusters and distracting meaningful debate with hollow assumptions, Wyoming’s senators should instead propose thoughtful solutions.