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Reports on Wyoming State Government Activity

Gov. Gordon directs State Construction Dept. to draft rules to carry concealed firearms in state-run facilities

A white sign informs entrants that firearms are prohibited in the Wyoming State Capitol. In the background, a man and woman talk about the history of the building.
David Dudley
Wyoming Public Media
This sign, near the entrance of the Capitol, may be outdated soon.

Governor Mark Gordon has directed the State Construction Department to draft rules that will allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons in state facilities. That will include state libraries, museums, public schools, health care facilities and offices, among others.

The directive comes three weeks after Governor Gordon vetoed a similar bill that passed the Legislature by a wide margin during this year's budget session.

In the veto letter, Gordon said that he didn't want to give the Legislature "the ability to micromanage a constitutionally protected right."

During last Wednesday's State Building Commission meeting, of which Gordon is the chairman, he stressed that he wanted to get the rules for concealed carry right — especially for the Capitol complex.

"When it comes to this building, we obviously share responsibility for it," said Gordon. "And, in fact, there are numerous places in this Capitol that jurisdiction changes from the executive branch to the legislative branch at certain times. Others, it doesn't, and somebody may get confused."

During the meeting, Secretary of State Chuck Gray said that the directive was welcome. He said that his office staff have expressed safety concerns after a security contract for the Herschler State Office Building wasn't renewed last year.

"I just think it's really important that we take some action and allow this concealed carry," said Gray. "Because there are a lot of people in our office that want to carry and feel that that's important with the threats out there [...] in the year 2024."

But critics of the move, like Rep. Jeremy Haroldson (R-Wheatland), who sponsored the bill that was vetoed by Gordon, have mixed feelings.

"Any time rights are restored, I am excited," Haroldson told Wyoming Public Media. "But are rights actually being restored here? It is sad that the governor feels his office has a better grasp on the heart of the people than the legislature does."

Haroldson, who's also the vice-chairman of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus, said that the legislature had given Gordon the "vehicle to fix the problem."

"He decided not use that vehicle," Haroldson added. "Now he feels that directives by his office are going to help with this problem. That isn't the right way to handle it."

Gov. Gordon's office declined interview requests made by Wyoming Public Media.

Meanwhile, 90 minutes south of Cheyenne, the Colorado Legislature offered a glimpse of what can happen when citizens are allowed to carry concealed weapons inside of state-run facilities.

Rep. Don Wilson (R-Monument) left a loaded 9mm Glock pistol in a capitol bathroom for 23 minutes before it was found by a janitor.

It is legal to carry concealed weapons in the Colorado capitol, so no charges were filed. The Colorado State Police held the weapon until Wilson, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and the former mayor of Monument, retrieved it.

While the building was closed to the public when the incident occurred, Wilson told House majority leader, Monica Duran, that he would no longer bring weapons into the capitol building.

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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