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Mead sees problems in legislation exempting state from gun laws

Feb 6, 2013 - By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Gov. Matt Mead says he has concerns with bills pending in the Wyoming Legislature that would seek to exempt the state from any new federal ban on assault weapons while allowing teachers and parents to bring guns into schools.

President Barack Obama has called for reinstituting a federal assault weapons ban following the massacre of 20 Connecticut first-graders by a gunman late last year. Although there are no new restrictions so far, the prospect of a coming ban has driven up gun prices and sparked a national shortage of ammunition and reloading supplies.

A bill has cleared the Wyoming House and is pending in the state Senate that would seek to exempt the state from any new federal ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines. It also would make it a misdemeanor for federal officials to seek to enforce them.

Another House bill, also now pending in the Senate, would lift the prohibition on carrying guns on school grounds for teachers, parents and guardians who have state-issued concealed carry permits.

Supporters say that arming responsible adults is the only way to protect Wyoming schools from any similar attack.

Mead, a Republican and former federal prosecutor, told reporters Tuesday that his bona fides as a gun owner are beyond reproach. He said he's a life member of the National Rifle Association and owns some of the firearms that could be banned.

"And I don't like the sort of national message that I hear occasionally that that's somehow wrong, if you're the owner of those guns you're somehow on the shady side of things, because I don't think that's true in Wyoming," Mead said. "One of the things that I think is a hallmark of Wyoming is that we're a gun state, and our gun owners are lawful owners of guns, and do it in a responsible way."

Mead also said he understands also that the slaughter of children in Connecticut was heartbreaking. "No parent should have to go through that," he said. "As a parent with kids in school, it scares me to death, it does."

Critics say the bill, sponsored by Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville, that would seek to exempt Wyoming from any new federal assault weapons ban would be unconstitutional.

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Legislature, Wyoming