CHEYENNE – Legislators organized a press conference with police chiefs and sheriffs across the state for a bill on the Second Amendment shortly before it passed the senate on Thursday at the state capital.
SF 0102, known as the Second Amendment Protection Act, was sponsored by Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, and is meant to prohibit the enforcement of federal regulation of firearms by state officials.
“Wyoming has the highest percentage of gun ownership in the nation,” Hicks said. “Consequently, the federal government pursues actions that are inconsistent with our values and infringes our citizen’s Second Amendment rights and infringes upon our 10th Amendment right of the constitution of the United States. It is absolutely imperative that we act.”
The bill prohibits state agencies from using personnel or state funds which “infringes on or impedes the free exercise of individual rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
Co-sponsors on the bill included eight other senators including Sen. Cheri Steinmetz and eight representatives such as the prime co-sponsor on the house side Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan.
Jennings said the bill was the result of months-long collaboration with the state chiefs and sheriffs.
“We want to put forward something that we all have been able to agree upon,” Jennings said.
Along with the legislators and local law enforcement, Mark Jones, a national director for Gun Owners of America, also spoke on behalf of the bill.
Jones, who lives in Johnson County, thanked Hicks and Jennings for their work on the bill as well as those who have expressed support around the state.
“It’s a very unusual coming together of diverse groups and diverse people who try to do what’s best for the citizens of Wyoming, protect the citizens of Wyoming from an overreaching federal government while also having these gentlemen and their deputies and their employees do their jobs as well,” Jones said.
Among the law enforcement members who stood behind the legislators and GOA reps during the press conference was Torrington Police Chief Matt Johnson.
Johnson said the proposed bill has sparked a lot of debate on an important subject and many plans were created as well.
“There’s been a lot of different options that have been brought forward. Some of those would have made it very challenging to be a police officer in the state of Wyoming and comply with what we have in the [US] Constitution,” Johnson said.
The bill, which has received the support of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police (WASCOP) was a compromise of law enforcement officers’ oath of office to uphold the constitution and protecting the rights of the people according to Johnson.
“It also provides us with the flexibility to do our jobs in the way that we need to do them to keep our community safe,” Johnson said.
While the bill achieved the support of the majority of senators, some who oppose the bill including Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, have claimed they were unable to testify on the issue.
When asked about such concerns, Sen. Hicks said ample time was provided in the last eight to nine months as well as during the session.
On Monday, SF 0102 was introduced on the house floor and sent to the House Judiciary Committee to receive more public testimony. The house will spend the next week looking at the bill along with others sent from the senate.