It would allow concealed weapons without permits
Gun bill gains backing
CHEYENNE -- A proposal that would allow people in Wyoming to carry concealed weapons without permits passed an initial legislative hurdle on Thursday.
If the bill passes, Wyoming would become only the third state in the nation, after Vermont and Alaska, to allow conceal-carry without a permit.
Under House Bill 113, the only people not allowed to carry concealed weapons in the state would be people under the age of 21, convicted felons, those convicted of drug-related charges, alcoholics, those with physical disabilities that impair their ability to handle firearms, and people who have lived in the state less than six months.
Currently, Wyoming residents must apply every five years for concealed weapons permits.
While most of the restrictions right now on acquiring a permit are listed in the bill, current permit rules also require applicants to show proficiency in using firearms and forbid issuing permits to people who have been judged legally incompetent or who have been committed to mental institutions.
Rep. Lorraine Quarberg, the Thermopolis Republican sponsoring the bill, said the legislation is meant simply to spell out rights that are already guaranteed under the Wyoming Constitution and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"I just believe people have the right to protect themselves and defend themselves," Quarberg said. "And I want to make sure that we put it in statute and people know they can do it."
Even if the bill becomes law, Wyoming would still issue concealed-weapons permits to residents wishing to carry their firearms across state lines, as many other states require permits before allowing them to carry concealed weapons there, Quarberg said.
Gun owners would also still be prohibited from bringing their firearms into courtrooms, police stations, jails, bars, governmental meetings, athletic events, schools, or houses of worship.
Some of the six state representatives who voted against introducing the bill said no longer requiring permits could pose a danger to law enforcement officers in Wyoming.
Rep. Pete Jorgensen, D-Jackson, went further, saying that loosening gun control regulations, except for hunting, would be dangerous to everyone.
"I've been in situations in other countries working where I'm glad I didn't have a gun," said Jorgensen, who served overseas in the U.S. Army. "I've not sure I would've controlled myself."