A new bill supported by at least 14 Wyoming legislators would expressly allow for the carrying of concealed firearms on the University of Wyoming’s campus, including at athletic events.
According to the Casper Star-Tribune, current state statute gives the power to regulate guns only to the state, saying that “no city, town, county, political subdivision or any other entity shall authorize, regulate or prohibit … carrying or possession of firearms.” An ongoing legal dispute seeks to resolve whether the university is considered part of the state, or whether it is categorized as a political subdivision or other entity.
The bill, introduced by state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, has attracted 13 co-sponsors but faces an uphill climb toward passage in this legislative session. The 2020 legislative session is focused on passing the state’s budget, and the bill would need two-thirds of the state’s 90 total legislators to support introduction.
Two similar bills were defeated in both the House and Senate in 2019.
University officials have not expressly indicated whether they intend to oppose the bill, but emails obtained via open records requests from around the time the previous legislation was being considered contained evidence of opposition.
University trustees’ chairman said in an email that it would be “appropriate to discourage its passage.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 16 states including Wyoming currently ban carrying a concealed weapon on college campuses; 23 states leave the decision whether to ban or allow concealed carry weapons up to individual colleges or universities; another 10 states have, either by court ruling or legislation, provisions allowing for concealed carry on campus; while one state, Tennessee, allows faculty with licenses to carry, but does not extend that to students or the general public.
Even with laws allowing guns on campus, some exemptions are sometimes made for athletic venues.
In 2017, Arkansas passed a law that allows Arkansans to carry guns into public buildings, including athletic venues like college football stadiums. However, those venues were later made exempt from the law, meaning that guns are still blocked from those locations.