Yesterday, Wyoming came one, huge step closer to joining the ranks of Alaska, Arizona and Vermont as yet another state permissive of universal concealed carry for all state residents.
In a landslide victory of 48 to 8, the proposal to extend constitutional carry style rights to all those with a permanent address in the Cowboy State sailed through the state Senate—the spot on the road to law that analysts anticipated would present the biggest hurdle for the measure. A vote in a Republican stacked House effectively guarantees that the initiative will get the green light after two more readings this week.
The bill heads to Wyoming Governor Matt Mead for his John Hancock. Governor Mead is a former U.S. Attorney for Wyoming and has prosecuted his fair share of federal firearms cases in the past. Though he has long supported gun rights, spokesman Renny MacKay relayed to the press that the governor will wait until the bill is in front of him before deciding whether or not to put his signature on it.
A sizeable force of law enforcement officials voiced opposition to the bill, invoking the “if it ain’t broke” argument and maintaining the permit system already in place works fine. Existing Wyoming carry concealed laws require citizens to demonstrate proficiency in using firearms (by taking a live round course) and pass a criminal background check. The state will continue the current system for state residents who desire a permit to take advantage of out-of-state reciprocity agreements and out-of-state applicants.
Prosecuting attorney out of Park County, Bryan Skoric, said he did not expect to see a rise in the number of residents carrying concealed guns and threw his support behind the action.
Skoric, a self-described gun rights advocate, also said in a statement that he anticipated other states would follow suit with similar measure and his predictions seemingly came true with near identical bills tabled in South Carolina and Utah—though with both heading in undeniably different directions than the Wyoming measure. A vote in South Carolina, scheduled for today was delayed until further notice and a similar bill in Utah was unexpectedly met with significant resistance from state lawmakers and stalled in committee.
Also, in a move that may engender controversy to come, a proposed amendment to the Wyoming Concealed Carry bill was silenced in the House. Republican Representative Jonathan Botten had suggested amending the bill to prevent residents from carrying concealed guns while intoxicated.
Botten argued for this amendment stating, “If you’re too drunk to hurtle your 3-ton car down the interstate at 75 miles per hour, I submit to you that you’re too drunk to be safely carrying a firearm.”
The House rejected the amendment and Representative Lorraine Quarberg, a Republican supporter of the bill and opponent of Botten’s amendment, responded, “We have a very strong sense of protecting individual rights, and in particular, the Second Amendment rights. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution preserves the right to bear arms.”