Senate Committee Changes Gun Free Zones Bill

Feb 25, 2015

Rep. Allen Jaggi discusses his proposal to eliminate gun free zones.
Credit Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A bill that would have removed gun free zones from Wyoming schools, athletic events, and government meetings has been substantially changed by the Senate Education Committee. 

The committee voted 3 to 2 to approve an amended bill that lets local school boards, college boards of trustees, and local government officials to decide if guns will be allowed within their facilities. 

Senator Hank Coe of Cody says local officials can better decide whether guns should be allowed in their jurisdiction.

“Recognize the significance of governing bodies at the local level that are elected by the people, I think that’s very important for them to be able to control their own destiny.”

Bill Sponsor Representative Allen Jaggi of Lyman objected to the changes. He says the original bill was based on Utah law that worked well for 15 years.

Only concealed permit holders would be allowed to have the concealed guns. John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center testified that permit holders have a strong safety record. He researched Wyoming permit holders from 2004 to 2008.

“During that period of  time you had zero-point-06 percent of permit holders who had their permits revoked for any reasons.”

Lott says places where gun owners may be present are less likely to be subjected to a mass shooting.

University of Wyoming student Christina Giarusso was recently assaulted and abducted near the UW campus and forced to see her attacker on campus. This is why she supports the bill.    

“Women who go through things that I have should be able to protect themselves by having a concealed firearm.”

But not everyone is convinced. Cheyenne East High School Senior Kate Backman surveyed several students in her school government classes and most say guns in schools scare them.

“That if our students are unsafe in their learning environment then they cannot learn.”

The bill heads to the Senate floor for further debate.