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2017 February 20 - 02:45 pm

Wyo. Advances Bills To Allow Guns on Campus

Legislative Committee Rejects Objections from Colleges

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers who say more gun freedom is the best way to counter mass shootings took a step forward toward allowing people to carry concealed guns on college campuses and in government meetings.

The House Judiciary Committee looked past objections from the University of Wyoming and advanced a bill that would allow students and others who are not police officers to carry guns at UW and the state’s community colleges.

Victims of several recent mass shootings were in places where they were not allowed to carry firearms they could have used in self-defense, Sen. Anthony Bouchard, one of the bill’s 13 sponsors, told the committee.

“Everywhere we look it’s been a gun-free zone. It’s people who’ve been disarmed victims,” said Bouchard, a Republican from Cheyenne.

The bill now heads to the full House. It also would need to pass the Senate to remove Wyoming from the list of 18 states that prohibit concealed carry of firearms on campus.

Another measure that cleared the committee would allow guns in government meetings. Both ideas have failed to clear the Legislature before the government meeting guns bill last year and the campus guns bill two years ago.

Wyoming has had relatively few episodes of campus violence, although in 2012 a man shot his father with a crossbow as he was teaching at Casper College. Christopher Krumm, 25, also stabbed James Krumm, 56, before stabbing himself in a computer science classroom.

Both died in a bloody scene recounted in testimony Tuesday.

“He did that in front of students who could only run for their lives,” said Michelle Sabrosky of pro-gun lobbying group Wyoming Gun Owners.

The University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges reiterated their opposition to the bill that they have also opposed in the past.

Guns could cause problems when students have been drinking or using drugs, are contemplating suicide, or are present at tense situations at events like football games, said Chris Boswell, the university’s vice president of governmental and public affairs.

“We’ve all witnessed the very high emotions that occur as a result of activities at a sporting event, or rotten calls by an official,” Boswell testified.

While a person with a gun could stop a campus shooter, the bill’s potential harm would outweigh any such benefits, he said.

The Wyoming Association of Municipalities opposed the bill, contending that people shooting back would only complicate matters for police.

“There are no signs out there that say, ‘This is a good person,’ or ‘This is not a good person,’” said the association’s interim executive director, Rick Kaysen.

The committee discussed but decided against changing the bill to continue to prohibit guns at public events, including sporting events, before approving it 6-3.

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