A bill that would eliminate most gun-free zones in Wyoming has passed the House Judiciary Committee on a unanimous 9-0 vote.

The measure will now move on to the full House of Representatives.

House Bill 125 would eliminate gun-free zones in schools, governmental meetings, and sporting events.

However, it was amended in committee on Wednesday to not apply to sporting events where alcohol is sold, after concerns were raised about firearms at University of Wyoming games at War Memorial Stadium and the Arena Auditorium.

The measure would allow anyone who is allowed to carry concealed weapons to carry them into government meetings ranging from local city council meetings to the legislature. Wyoming law does not require a permit for residents over the age of 18 to carry firearms. However, to carry guns into a school legally, a concealed carry permit would still be needed.

Some restrictions on firearms would remain in place. Citizens could not carry guns into courtrooms, for example. And property owners could prohibit them on their property if they so desire. So in a privately owned office building, for example, guns could still be banned at the discretion of the property owner.

Testimony For And Against House Bill 125

In committee testimony on Wednesday, Mark Jones, Gun Owners of America Hunting Director, and a Johnson County resident, told the committee that the bill is a "basic issue of Second Amendment rights. ''Gun-free zones are simple invitations to criminals and mass killers," Jones said. He said that federal figures show that 93 percent of mass shootings occur in gun-free zones.

But Erika Cole of Cheyenne, who is a member of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, spoke against the bill. Cols said she is herself a gun owner "But I think there is a time and a place for guns." She went on to say that she is concerned about allowing guns into sensitive areas such as schools, government meetings, and sporting events. "Increasing the number of guns in in places like these does not make us safer, it  just creates a lot more potential for dangerous scenarios."

Bills similar to House Bill 125 have been proposed several times in the Wyoming Legislature in recent years, but so far none has won final approval.

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Gallery Credit: Kolby Fedore, TSM


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