2016 Wyoming Legislative Review: Gun Free Meetings
Among the most controversial issues to be tackled by Wyoming lawmakers during the Legislature's 2016 session was a proposal to allow people to carry concealed weapons into government meetings ranging from the legislature to local city council meetings.
Supporters, such as Rep. Kendell Kroeker (R-Evansville), argued the measure would allow members of the public to defend themselves against armed attackers.
Kroeker, who co-sponsored the bill, said it was a scaled back version of a bill put forward in previous years that would have also repealed gun-free zones in schools, at sporting events and numerous other venues.
Kroeker noted the proposal to allow people to carry guns into schools had generated a lot of opposition, but he said there had been much less pushback to allowing weapons at government meetings.
But opponents, such as Cheyenne Mayor Rick Kaysen, said there is no reason for someone to carry a gun into a public meeting.
The issue divided organizations representing local government officials, with the Wyoming Association of Municipalities (WAM) backing a proposal to allow local governments to opt out of the proposal. But the Wyoming County Commissioners Association (WCCA) said it didn't have a problem with the idea, noting many county commissions across the state already allow people to bring guns to public meetings. An amendment put forward by Rep. Charles Pelkey (D-Laramie) to allow local opt outs was rejected by house members, and the original bill passed the house on a 50-10 vote.
But it missed a deadline to be reported out of committee in the Wyoming Senate and so died in that body without coming to a vote. But supporters are already vowing to revisit the bill next year..
The 2017 legislative session will be a 40 day general session, as compared to the 20 day budget session that wrapped up on March 4.