CASPER, Wyo. — A bill that would allow citizens of other states and green card holders to conceal carry firearms without obtaining a permit passed both chambers of the Wyoming Legislature this week.
Under current law, Wyoming residents who can legally possess a firearm can generally carry concealed deadly weapons without a license or permit, though nonresidents are required to have a permit.
House Bill 116 would allow United States citizens to conceal carry even if they are not residents of Wyoming without a special permit, so long as they otherwise meet the requirements to carry concealed.
The bill will now go to Governor Mark Gordon’s desk for consideration.
Ahead of the Senate’s first reading vote on Tuesday, some senators asked what the proposed legislation would mean in terms of people legally living in the United States who are not citizens.
“When we had the 9/11 guys here that hijacked all those planes would they have qualified under this as residents of the United States?” Senate Vice President Larry Hicks (Albany, Carbon, Sweetwater County) asked.
While he said he supports the bill, Hicks said he wanted to make sure the legislation wouldn’t create any unintended loopholes.
Sen. Anthony Bouchard (Laramie County), a sponsor of the bill, said that the legislation would allow anyone who can legally possess a firearm in the United States under U.S. Code § 922 to conceal carry in Wyoming without a permanent whether or not that person resides in the state.
Bouchard that would include green card holders. He said that under existing Wyoming law people don’t have to be citizens of the United States to conceal carry without a special permit if they have been a resident of the state for six months.
He added that people coming into the U.S. on non-immigration visas are not able to legally possess a firearm.
“All this bill does is says if you can lawfully carry, you can do it even if you are a nonresident of Wyoming,” Bouchard said.
Sen. Bo Biteman (Sheridan) said he didn’t know Wyoming required non-residents to obtain a permit to conceal carry until he was asked to co-sponsor the legislation.
“A lot of people that do travel to our great state during the tourism season hear that we are a constitutional carry state but they could be breaking the law if they are nonresidents and they choose to constitutionally carry because of our awkward law that we are attempting to fix right now,” he said.
Bouchard said the bill would eliminate the need for people moving to Wyoming to wait six months and pick up residency in order to conceal carry without a permit.
He said it would also allow people to travel across state lines with firearms to other states which allow nonresidents to conceal carry without a permit.
Sen. Troy McKeown (Campbell) alluded to the recent mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado in which ten people, including a police officer, were killed at a King Soopers.
“If someone is willing to go into a grocery store and kill people, they are not going to flinch at carrying a gun illegally,” he said, arguing that the proposed legislation would protect “law-abiding citizens” by giving them the ability to conceal carry. “We can’t legislate crime away. If we could we would have already done it.”
In order to conceal carry without a license if the bill becomes law, nonresidents would have to meet the following requirements laid out in Wyoming Statute 6-8-104:
- they are at least 21 years of age
- they do “not suffer from a physical infirmity which prevents the safe handling of a firearm”
- they are “not ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to 18 U.S.C. section 922(g) or W.S. 6-8-102”
- they have not been:
- committed to a state or federal facility for abuse of a controlled substance within one year
- convicted of a felony violation “of the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act of 1971, W.S. 35-7-1001 through 35-7-1057 or similar laws of any other state or the United States relating to controlled substances”
- convicted of a misdemeanor “of a misdemeanor violation of the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act of 1971, W.S. 35-7-1001 through 35-7-1057 or similar laws of any other state or the United States relating to controlled substances” within one year
- they do not “chronically or habitually use alcoholic liquor and malt beverages to the extent that his normal faculties are impaired.”
- “It shall be presumed that an applicant chronically and habitually uses alcoholic beverages to the extent that his normal faculties are impaired if the applicant has been involuntarily committed…to any residential facility pursuant to the laws of this state or similar laws of any other state as a result of the use of alcohol” in the last year
- they are not “currently adjudicated to be legally incompetent”
- they have “not been committed to a mental institution”
The House of Representatives third reading vote of 56-4 on the bill was as follows:
- Ayes: ANDREW, BAKER, BANKS, BEAR, BLACKBURN, BROWN, BURKHART, BURT, CLAUSEN, CRAGO, DUNCAN, EKLUND, EYRE, FLITNER, FORTNER, GRAY, GREEAR, HALLINAN, HAROLDSON, HARSHMAN, HEINER, HENDERSON, HUNT, JENNINGS, KINNER, BARLOW, KNAPP, LARSEN, L, LAURSEN, D, MACGUIRE, MARTINEZ, NEIMAN, NEWSOME, NICHOLAS, OAKLEY, OBERMUELLER, O’HEARN, OLSEN, OTTMAN, PAXTON, PROVENZA, ROSCOE, SHERWOOD, SIMPSON, SOMMERS, STITH, STYVAR, SWEENEY, WALTERS, WASHUT, WESTERN, WHARFF, WILLIAMS, WILSON, WINTER, ZWONITZER
- Nays: CLIFFORD, CONNOLLY, SCHWARTZ, YIN
House Bill 116 is sponsored by: Representative(s) Andrew, Baker, Bear, Burt, Fortner, Gray, Heiner, Jennings, Laursen, Neiman, Ottman, Rodriguez-Williams, Styvar, Wharff and Winter and Senator(s) Biteman, Bouchard, French, Hutchings, James, McKeown, Salazar.