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Sheriffs and Constituents Show Widespread Opposition to Gun Bills in Wyoming Legislature. Here’s What You Need to Know.

March 9, 2021

This session, Wyoming lawmakers are fast-tracking reckless gun bills that have faced large opposition from law enforcement officials, educators, and constituents. Lawmakers are considering SF 81, legislation to nullify federal gun safety laws; SF 67, legislation to force guns into sensitive areas like churches and daycares; and SF 137, legislation to force universities and colleges to allow guns on campus. 

Wyoming has the sixth highest rate of gun deaths and the highest rate of gun suicides in the country. This gun violence costs Wyoming $735.9 million each year, of which $14.2 million is paid by taxpayers. This session, lawmakers should be focused on proven solutions to end gun violence and prevent gun suicides instead of playing politics. 

Here’s what law enforcement officials have been saying about SF 81:Cowboy State Daily: Sheriffs Say Gun Rights Bill Will Make Crime Fighting Tougher

The Wyoming Sheriff’s Association, in a letter to legislators, said as it is currently written, the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” could leave its members in an “impossible dilemma” as they try to enforce the law.

‘The … Act, while well intentioned to prohibit firearms confiscation by federal entities to unknown future laws, could actually inhibit Wyoming peace officers from enforcing certain Wyoming statutes, conducting complete investigations and ensuring successful prosecution,’ said the letter, signed by all 23 of Wyoming’s sheriffs.

Two bills have been filed for consideration during the Legislature’s general session, Senate File 81 and House Bill 124, that would declare federal laws they identify as “infringements on the people’s right to keep and bear arms” as invalid.’”

The letter stressed the association and its members are supporters of the Second Amendment, but that they cannot support the current version of the bill.

The Sundance Times: Sheriffs in stand-off over Second Amendment bill

“All 23 of Wyoming’s sheriffs have registered alarm at the damage a bill under consideration by the Legislature could do to policing in this state. Though the Second Amendment Preservation Act (House Bill 124/Senate File 81) is intended to be pro-Second Amendment, says Sheriff Jeff Hodge, its implications are strongly anti-law enforcement.

“It’s not intended to be anti-law enforcement, but it is,” he says. “The intention was good but they need to talk to peace officers and prosecutors.”

If this legislation is passed, the sheriff says, it could turn an ordinary arrest into a career-ending decision for a peace officer. While it does little to protect the average citizen and removes a protection that peace officers rely on, he says it only provides protection for one particular group: criminals.”

This week, constituents  also voiced their opposition to SF 67, legislation to force guns into sensitive areas like churches and daycares during committee hearings with testimony and letters to the editor. 

Here’s what constituents are saying about SF 67: Wyoming Tribune Eagle: Bill to repeal gun-free zones for concealed carry permittees advances in Legislature

“However, several residents testified in opposition to the measure, arguing it would make those public spaces less safe. Cheyenne resident Beth Howard, a chapter leader of the national gun safety group Moms Demand Action, argued the bill could have unintended consequences, such as children accessing misplaced guns inside school facilities.

‘The bill is offered as a solution to prevent gun violence, but the reality is that the increased presence of guns introduces new risks and does nothing to intervene before shootings happen,’ Howard said.

Howard also noted Wyoming has one of the highest gun suicide rates in the country, echoing a point raised by several critics of the bill that it would potentially compound the state’s mental health issues.

The measure had opposition from several industry groups, including the Wyoming Association of Municipalities, the Wyoming School Boards Association and the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees. Cheyenne Regional Medical Center CEO Tim Thornell also spoke against the bill, noting the hospital has its own security force to keep it secure.”

KGAB – Cheyenne: Gun-free Zones Repeal Passes Wyoming Senate Committee

“A long list of people testified against the bill in committee, including Beth Howard of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America. ‘This dangerous bill will force guns into our K-12 schools and onto our university and community college campuses” Howard said. She went on to say that ”the reality is that the introduction of guns introduces new risks.’

Also testifying against the bill was Cheyenne Regional Medical Center CEO Tim Thornell and Laramie County Community College President Joe Schaffer.”

Statistics about gun violence in Wyoming are available here, and information on how Wyoming gun laws compare to other states overall is available here. Volunteers with the Wyoming chapter of Moms Demand Action are available for interviews.

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