The “Stand Your Ground” bill that has now become law went through a completely necessary, completely avoidable amendment process to get to the governor’s desk. Its journey is illustrative of a fundamentally flawed process by which many legislators sponsor bills.
Twice in two years, Representatives Biteman and Jennings of Sheridan have sponsored legislation without bothering to consult with those members of their constituencies that would most be affected by it. Last year, they sponsored a bill that would have forced local governments to abdicate their right to restrict the carrying of firearms in public meetings. As stated in the Sheridan Press by Ranchester Mayor Peter Clark, neither he nor Dayton Mayor Norm Anderson were asked for their opinions on the prospect of armed citizens in what are often emotional government meetings. Luckily, that bill was vetoed.
And again with "Stand Your Ground," clearly the opinions of law enforcement, who would be directly affected, were not considered to be important prior to introduction. As should have been expected with such a haphazard bill, the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police (WASCS) came out against the provision in the bill that would have prevented arrest of anyone claiming self-defense. WASCS was against the provision because of the difficulty of assessing intent at the scene of a shooting potentially leading to a murderer walking free.
In the end, after thinly veiled threats from the NRA and others, our Legislature did the right thing and stripped the provisions of the bill that essentially amounted to a legalization of murder.
The eagerness with which many legislators jump to sponsor cookie-cutter legislation from special interest groups is alarming. Representative Lone of Cheyenne is a particularly bad actor, having sponsored cookie-cutter bills related to abortions, Cuba divestment and at least two horribly bigoted anti-LGBTQ bills. But he’s not alone. You can scarcely find a Republican that hasn’t signed on to a pre-written, unnecessary bill.
Meanwhile the defunding of public schools continues. This is unacceptable. It’s time for us to demand that our legislators solve Wyoming problems and stop catering to special interests.