CODY — In what may be a growing trend in states around the country, Wyoming will soon join Alaska, Arizona and Vermont in allowing residents to carry concealed guns without a permit.

Gov. Matt Mead on Wednesday signed into law a so-called “constitutional carry” bill that won wide approval in the Legislature, calling it “an appropriate law for Wyoming” during a signing ceremony.

Sen. Kit Jennings (R-Casper). click to enlarge — photo by Donn Bruns/Lifestyle Photography

“I think this is a historic bill, and several states will follow us. As always, Wyoming is a trendsetter,” said sponsor Sen. Kit Jennings (R-Casper).

Legislatures in at least a half-dozen other states are considering similar bills. Wyoming’s new law takes effect July 1.

Some in law enforcement had opposed the bill, saying the state’s existing permitting system worked well by allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons after they prove proficiency in using firearms and pass a background check.

Rep. Jonathan Botten (R-Sheridan) had proposed amending the bill to prevent residents from carrying concealed guns while drunk. The House rejected that amendment.

“If you’re too drunk to hurtle your 3-ton car down the interstate at 75 mph, I submit to you that you’re too drunk to be safely carrying a firearm,” Botten said during floor debate of the measure.

“We have a very strong sense of protecting individual rights, and in particular, the Second Amendment rights,” said Rep. Lorraine K. Quarberg (R-Thermopolis), who supported the bill but opposed Botten’s amendment.

Rep. James W. Byrd (D-Laramie) said during floor debate he worried that passing the bill “throws the door wide open to all sorts of mischief and problems.”

Mead, a former U.S. Attorney for Wyoming whose office had prosecuted federal firearms cases, said he was unfairly portrayed by some pro-gun bloggers as an anti-gun candidate during his 2010 election campaign.

“My position as U.S. attorney and my position now as governor regarding guns has not changed,” Mead said Friday during a press conference after the conclusion of the 61st legislative session.

Mead was U.S. attorney for Wyoming when the federal government rejected a 2004 state law that allowed individuals convicted of certain misdemeanor domestic violence offenses to have their gun rights restored. Federal authorities said Wyoming’s 2004 gun rights restoration law did not conform to federal standards for expunging such convictions. Wyoming ended up challenging the federal position in court, and later adjusted its statute.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead. (click to enlarge)

Those who thought he was anti-gun because he was a prosecutor, because he was from Teton County or because of the 2004 lawsuit between Wyoming and the federal government were erroneous, Mead said while explaining his decision to sign the concealed carry bill.

John Powell, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wyoming, said that federal firearms cases in the state typically center around charges of illegal gun possession, rather than violent crimes involving guns.

Casper Police Chief Tom Pagel and others in law enforcement cautioned during testimony on the bill that changing the law would mean police would not have a chance to review applications first. A small fraction of candidates are rejected under the existing process.

Paul Paad, a Casper motor freight business owner, said he had personally lobbied in support of the bill. The Constitution guarantees citizens the right to bear arms, said Paad, a volunteer legislative representative for Wyoming Central ABATE, a Libertarian group whose acronym stands for A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments.

Bryan Skoric, prosecuting attorney for Park County, said he supported the law, and didn’t expect to see a major spike in the number of residents carrying concealed guns.

Skoric, who describes himself as a strong supporter of gun rights, said the new law should not be a cause for concern among police and prosecutors, and that he expects other states to follow suit with similar measures.

Wyoming will maintain its existing system of issuing concealed-carry permits based on background checks and firearms training for those gun owners who want permit reciprocity with other states that require such safeguards.

— For more on this subject, read “Gun advocates made gains under Obama, but still factor into election,” by WyoFile reporter Gregory Nickerson, published on October 30, 2012.

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Published on March 8, 2011

{ 17 comments }

Elias B April 5, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Way to go Wyoming. Have all of you that are opponents to this remarkable bill ever thought that the criminals not only have to be concerned with where the police are while they are committing a crime, but now they have to be prepared to be shot at by any citizen around. That seems to be a pretty big deterent to actually go through with their criminal behavior. I don’t know about you all but I feel a whole lot safer knowing the good citizens of Wyoming will be on an equal playing field with criminals. Not to mention our 2nd amendment rights are not being challenged anymore!

K W April 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm

The best way to kill two birds IS to keep it for two years or four so Police can YET arrest the criminals and still the Citizens, persons,Tourist and drifters can yet open and conceal carry. The criminals DO NOT like only six shots nor like Revolvers nor 4 or 5″ long barrels Make the Carry law for these elements . Keep the CCL only for automatic handguns only, the criminal won’t and can’t get a License Therefore they can still be arrested, the criminals think they have to have 15 rds. an automatic and concealed the police can still arrest the criminals by continuing the CCL law just to jail the criminals by. GIVE TO GET turn loose of your simiautomatics carry. Revolver or carry two small S&W Model 60′s. This will hinder they will be less on the streets where your family will be. Give A Little sacrifice a little so our Sheriffs can yet arrest the bad guy’s just open carry and conceal carry revolvers! Men give to get the bad guys in jail Near Right On. Google “Void” vs “Null” know the difference Legally. Consider no law to prohibit or diminish open or conceal wearing of Equalizing ‘Handy’ Surviva Sidearms has ever been passed . None Ever got off the ground [Never Born] NEVER BECAME / Never Was ” V O I D ” your favorite State Senator your Favorite Representative is Decieving perpetuating Tyrannical Bastard ( Lower than whale shit in the bottom of the ocean) selah. What is the legal deffinition o “VOID” ? You need to know warnig do not re read that definition for four days in a row YOU will get angry you will want to form a Tea Party Militia in your county.” No law has ever been passed” Bliss vs Commonwealth”. The people vs Zerillo” “Cockrun vs The State at 402.

Inky March 11, 2011 at 7:32 am

Extreme conservatives are idolaters.
Instead of worshipping God, they worship an pantheon of little godlets like:
Wall Street
Reagan
NRA & guns
greed and
Social Darwinism on steroids.
Ironic that they throw fits about the teaching of evolution, yet laud winners of jungle-law competition in the marketplace.

Scott March 10, 2011 at 7:40 pm

In response to the person who wrote “A LOT OF NERVOUS POLICE OFFICERS THAT ARE GOING TO END UP KILLING SOMEONE THAT IS INNOCENT BECAUSE THEY MIGHT THINK THEY HAVE A GUN. BECAUSE WHO KNOWS WHO IS CARRING OR NOT. ” The law in Wyoming does not require a person who currently has a concealed and carry permit to inform law enforcement if they are in possesion of a weapon. So that means as the law is now; police officers don’t know who is packing or not. The new law won’t change that at all.

David Regnery March 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm

DeweyV… Yes, I believe shall not be infringed means just that. Had today’s modern weapons been available when the 2nd Amendment was written, then the Founding Fathers would have certainly not differentiated. In fact, I believe they would have been less vague and expanded the language to include “if it can be issued to soldier or sailor then it can be owned by a private citizen”.

Your forget that yesterday’s militia was made up of clerks, shopkeepers, and farmers-not semi-professional soldiers (aka today’s National Guard). The purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect American Citizens from a tyrannical government. If you think the Founding Fathers would have adopted a provision that limited the type of firearm a citizens could lawfully own to defend themselves from an oppressive government your mistaken.

I suggest you reconsider the situation this country faced at that time. A British Monarchy that was becoming increasingly more tyrannical, limiting freedom, and over taxing her subjects. Gee, that sounds familiar.

No, the Founding Fathers would not have regulated the citizens to own only revolvers, single shot .22 rifles, and compound bows but allow the “government” to own anything that modern technology could develop. The Founding Fathers had an inherit distrust of government and recognized that our unalienable rights (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness) are God given, not a byproduct of government generosity. The guarantee that citizens could to defend themselves from future oppression is why they so wisely saw fit to stipulate that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed.

A Bouchard March 9, 2011 at 6:50 pm

@ Michelle – You said, “BECAUSE WHO KNOWS WHO IS CARRYING OR NOT”…Now that is the most ridiculous thing anyone could say. LOL, The police already don’t know who is carrying. Newsflash: This argument doesn’t work anymore!

BHirsh March 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Hey, Michele -

Can you provide evidence that the inevitable scenarios you propose have happened in any of the other states that have enacted this policy?

I didn’t think so.

Hey, Lee -

“On every question of construction, let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”

— Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 322.

Got it?

A Bouchard March 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm

BTW – This writer left out the fact that WyGO (Wyoming Gun Owners Assoc.) lobbied and lead the charge in one of the largest grassroots campaigns for gun rights in Wyoming. So much for objective reporting.

A Bouchard March 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Maybe the opponents of this legislation should move to Chicago or California. You may find more like minded there…

John Bates Thayer March 9, 2011 at 1:59 am

To better understand the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution it is helpful to consider how almost every reasonable person would interpret this amendment if it did not involve something which is considered controversial or politically incorrect by some and idolized by others. Arms in the possession of ordinary citizens meet both criteria. Let’s, for the sake of argument, suppose that the Second Amendment dealt with books, not arms or weapons, and read like this: “A well educated electorate, being necessary to the maintenance of a free State, the right of the people to own and read books, shall not be infringed.” Does anyone really believe that liberals would claim that only people who were eligible to vote should be allowed to buy and read books? Or that a person should have to have voted in the last election before the government would permit him or her to buy a book? Would the importation of books be banned if they did not meet an “educational purpose” test? Would some States limit citizens to buying “one book a month”? Would inflammatory “assault books” be banned in California?

Michele March 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm

HAVE YOU ALL LOST YOUR MINDS THIS IS THE STUPIDEST THING YET. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A LOT OF NERVOUS POLICE OFFICERS THAT ARE GOING TO END UP KILLING SOMEONE THAT IS INNOCENT BECAUSE THEY MIGHT THINK THEY HAVE A GUN. BECAUSE WHO KNOWS WHO IS CARRING OR NOT. THIS IS NOT THE WILD WILD WEST ANYMORE.

Rich March 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Hey Dewey
They had the peperbox way before the founding fathers.

T.D. Ball March 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Passage of this bill is a grand reflection on the citizens of Wyoming. Maybe we are the fourth state to pass the law but there are 46 other states that unwisely have not passed one yet. It can only be relegated to the Supreme Court’s passage of not one, but two cases recognizing that the Second Amendment provides Americans a fundamental right to bear arms that cannot be violated by state and local governments. There has to be more common sense in interpreting the Constitution as was intended by the founding fathers.

Had there been more common sense in following the Constitution as set forth by the founding fathers since its inception, the federal government would be subservient to the states and we wouldn’t be headed into socialism.

There, fixed it for you Lee.

DeweyV March 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Every time I come to ” Gun Rights” in a line of text , I replace it with ” Firearm Responsibilty”, at least as far as the individual is concerned. It all works better that way. Those much touted Founding Fathers when they wrote the vague 2nd Amendment had nothing more technical than low-powered flintlock singleshot muskets and curvaceous pistols to reckon. What would they have written if they were made aware of Glocks, AK-47′s, Street Sweeper shotguns, Gatling guns and Browning .50 cal automatic rifles , or today’s Barret .50 cal sniper rifles that kill supersonically from a mile away ? They wrote the 2nd Amendment long before the repeating rifle was invented. How many of you ” Gun RIGHTS Advocates” actually belong to a ” well regulated Militia” ? All I can grant towards that is being active in the National Guard or the Army Reserves. The Supreme Court never has ruled on the explicit meaning of the 2nd Amendment, the differential on each side of the comma…’ well regulated Militia” going in , and ‘ the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed’. Who are People ( capita P ) , and what exactly constitutes ‘ infringement ‘ anyway ? Do you honestly believe that ” rights shall not be infringed” really means unlimited absolute ” All Guns All the Time” possession , Concealed Carry , and absolutely no measure of state approval of responsibility . That’s where the term ‘ regulated” comes in. What is that ‘ well regulated Militia’ anyway ? I’m sorry , but being a card carrying member of the NRA does not invoke membership in a well regulated Militia.

None of this has ever been adequately tested for constitutional integrity. That is a fallacy. Wyoming’s new law is a travesty , an extremity, a reckless disdain forRESPONSIBILITY in the name of an ill-concieved belief in gun ‘rights’ that in and of itself fails the test for personal and public responsibility also being a determinant, and codified as such.

On the street, this bad law will lead to one guy packing a Glock in a hidden shoulder holster under his Carhartt coat feeling smug and safe , and the other 49 people in the room being more than a little nervous about being near a deadly weapon. The ONLY purpose of a handgun actually used is to hurt or kill people. What exactly is wrong with packing that piece out where we call all see it and we all know where we stand ?

What, exactly , are you defending against ? I always end this discussion by asking a simple question , and it has never been answered to my satisfaction to date : ” When where and how in Wyoming has a Concealed Carry handgun actually prevented a crime ? ” Please be specific. I know of no cases where a concealed gun suddenly brandished saved the day , in public. Do you ?

I personally have no issues with hunting rifles and game shotguns, and handguns kept privately to protect home and hearth and even your pickup truck. No issue whatsoever with guns used thus and so, RESPONSIBLY, in good measure. But universal unlicensed Concealed Carry crosses a line. Surely , pubic safety is a two way street.

Personal Comment to Kit Jennings: If you really believe as you say , ” as usual Wyoming is a trendsetter “, you are delusional. Since when has being socially regressive , culturally anachronistic, and ethnologically discriminatory ever been trendsetting? This year’s Legislature was disgraceful. Nothing to be proud of at all. Unfortunately , you represent your constituency very well.

- Dewey Vanderhoff
Cody WY

Lee Underbrink March 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Passage of this bill was a poor reflection on the citizens of Wyoming. Maybe we are the fourth state to pass the law but there are 46 other states that wisely have not passed one. It can only be relegated to the Supreme Court’s passage of allowing demonstrations at a soldiers funeral. There has to be more common sense in intrepreting the constitution in today’s time.

Darrin March 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Well done guys… with as many gun grabbers as we have in office today this is a major victory for pro-gun and pro-second amendment supporters. I hope more states will follow int Wyoming’s footprints.

James March 8, 2011 at 8:54 am

This is an outstanding bill, protecting the people of Wyoming right to self protection guaranteed by the 2nd amendment.

Great job!

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