Wyoming's state legislature will vote on Tuesday on the Firearms Protection Act, aimed not only at protecting and expanding the right to bear arms, but going as far as proposing to ban enforcement of all federal gun regulations within the state.
On Monday The Wyoming House began to hear the bill along with another bill introduced after the Newton, Conn. School massacre that would allow carrying concealed weapons at schools and college campuses.
The Judiciary Committee will cast votes on state preemption of local gun laws. They will also consider a ban on enforcing federal firearms regulation, and permitting concealed carry in schools.
“A well-armed society is a safe society,” said Rep. Allen Jaggi (R-Lyman), a retired biology teacher. “The more guns you take away, the more rights of people you take away, the more rights you’re giving to the bad guys, the criminals who don’t care about the law.”
In 2011 the legislature passed the Wyoming Firearms Freedom Act, which states federal regulations on gun manufacture do not apply to guns made in Wyoming and used exclusively within the state. Then in 2012, Wyoming passed a law allowing residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit, so long as they possess the qualifications normally required for a permit.
The House Judiciary Committee passed bills regarding the carrying of concealed weapons in government meetings and prohibition of weapons from courtrooms. With the exception of Senate File 132, a bill legalizing silencers, all of this year’s the firearms legislation is coming from the House.
House Bill 104 builds on the framework set up by the Wyoming Firearms Freedom Act by extending exemption from federal regulation to all guns owned within the state of Wyoming. Any public servant who tries to enforce federal laws would face a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kendell Kroeker (R), said, “We’re saying that we’re not going to allow an unconstitutional law to be enforced in Wyoming.”
The bill’s strategy is “nullification,” where states pass laws that directly conflict with federal policies. The strategy is based on the Tenth Amendment, which reserves all powers not delegated to the federal government and the states for the people.
Wyoming’s Firearms Protection Act would not stand up in court because a state cannot pass a statute that blocks enforcement of an otherwise enforceable federal law. Legal scholars point to the supremacy clause in Article VI of the Constitution, which requires judges in every state to look to the Constitution and the laws of the United States as the “supreme law of the land.”