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Reports on Wyoming State Government Activity

Gov. Gordon vetoes bill to repeal gun-free zones

A row of doors, adorned with bright brass door handles, recedes into the background.
David Dudley
Wyoming Public Media
The entrance to Storey Auditorium, Laramie County School District No. 1, Cheyenne

Last week Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed a bill that would have made it legal to carry concealed firearms in public schools, hospitals and government meetings across the state.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin during the Legislature's 67th budget session. But one education official felt the bill was flawed.

Brian Farmer, the executive director of the Wyoming School Boards Association, said that vigorous lobbying from gun advocates may have helped push a bad bill through the process.

"I think the clear weight of testimony by stakeholders suggested that our current law in Wyoming, that allows for local control, that allows colleges, schools, municipalities to make decisions on their own behalf is a better policy position," said Farmer.

Gordon, who said he fully supports the right to bear arms, agreed. In his veto he said the bill "erodes historic local control" by giving the Legislature "the ability to micromanage a constitutionally protected right."

A few Wyoming districts, including Park County, allow some school officials to carry guns in schools. But it comes with training and restrictions.

Farmer said the state Senate did not use the normal process by which a bill becomes law.

"During the budget session, the majority of testimony offered was not in support of the bill," Farmer said. "And so the Senate, utilizing the process that it did to recall the bill, is extraordinary."

Farmer said the Senate had rejected the advice of their own staff, presiding officer and rules committee in order to move the bill forward.

"That shows that it did not utilize the process that a bill normally uses to become a law," said Farmer. "The phrase you hear in the legislature quite a bit is, 'It's not ready for prime time.' It means that a bill has not had appropriate considerations before passing."

The bill would have required state facilities—including the University of Wyoming—to seek legislative approval to restrict carrying firearms on their grounds.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

David Dudley is an award-winning journalist who has written for The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, High Country News, WyoFile, and the Wyoming Truth, among many others. David was a Guggenheim Crime in America Fellow at John Jay College from 2020-2023. During the past 10 years, David has covered city and state government, business, economics and public safety beats for various publications. He lives in Cheyenne with his family.
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