Three Gun Bills Pass Wyoming House
The Wyoming House of Representatives has signed off on three gun bills by wide margins.
But if recent history is any guide at least two of the bills may face tougher sledding in the Wyoming Senate.
House Bill 136 would allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring firearms onto college campuses.
In debate on the measure Wednesday, Rep. Cathy Connolly (D-Albany), who is a University of Wyoming Professor, told lawmakers that neither the University of Wyoming nor any of the state's community colleges had asked for the bill to be passed.
Connolly raised questions about the bill ranging from the presence of firearms with a K-8 school on campus to firearms in UW classrooms and the possible threat of violence from armed students. Connolly related her own concerns as an instructor "who teaches very controversial subjects" in classes that often include "heated arguments." She said the potential for armed students being present would affect both how she teaches and how she interacts with students in her office.
Connolly also said she was worried the presence of guns on campus would increase the risk of both suicides and accidents. Prior to the debate, Connolly had a resolution from the UW faculty Senate distributed to house members calling for a continuation of the university's gun-free status.
But Representative Scott Clem (R-Campbell County) told lawmakers "I'm not worried about good guys with guns." Clem said he is far more concerned about people who won't pay attention to the rules banning guns. "You get one of those people fired up and then what happens," Clem said.
He said under current UW rules banning guns victims are left with options like hiding under a desk or locking doors. As for UW faculty members who are worried about armed students, Clem said, "This bill is great because now if you get a concealed carry permit you can carry a gun."
Clem said as things stand now "monsters" who open fire on innocent people can do so with the knowledge that their victims can't shoot back, adding gun-free zones create "soft targets." House members passed the bill by a vote of 40-19 with one excused. They then went on to pass House Bill 137, which repeals gun free zones at governmental meetings. That measure passed 47-13.
House Bill 194, which allows school boards the option of allowing district employees to carry firearms also passed on a 46-14 vote. But over the last few years, the state house has repeatedly passed bills allowing concealed carrying of firearms into various venues only to see the bills die in the senate, often without even reaching the senate floor for a vote.
All three of the bills passed by the house now move on to the senate..