Mar 7, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterFremont County lawmakers said they approved of an amendment made late in the legislative session to protect Wyoming citizens from federal gun legislation.
The change to House Bill 41 set aside $250,000 to be used in defending the rights of Wyoming residents under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
State Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, said he helped craft the amendment because he is concerned about the potential for a federal ban on certain types of firearms.
"I have a fear the present administration in Washington may, by executive order, try to take away our Second Amendment rights," Bebout said.
"I'm totally opposed to that kind of move, and the only thing we really can do at this stage is litigate."
If federal legislation is passed banning guns, Bebout said Wyoming's attorney general can "lead the charge" against it using the appropriated money.
HB41 originally was written to adjust fees for wild bison licenses and limit the number of licenses available in a lifetime.
State Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, said senators chose to amend the bill after failing to pass three other House bills that dealt with gun rights.
"(Senators) received a lot of comments from constituents and others," Miller said. "(They) crafted the amendment as somewhat of a concession to the pro-Second Amendment crowd that were very disappointed in the Senate's earlier actions."
House Bill 103 stated that gun regulations would be developed at the state level and not by smaller jurisdictions. House bill 104 would have made unenforceable in Wyoming any federal law attempting to ban a semi-automatic firearms or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm. And House bill 105 allowed people with valid concealed-carry permits issued in Wyoming to carry concealed weapons at colleges, universities and public schools.
While he was not happy that the bills were not discussed on the floor of the Senate, Miller said he did vote to approve the amendment to HB41.
State Rep. Nathan Winters, R-Thermopolis, also voted for the change, but he agreed with Miller that he would have preferred the Senate pass some of the earlier bills.
"(I) do not like the idea of a 'rider,'" Winters said, referring to the amendment that was added to HB41 as the legislative session drew to a close.
"(But) the Wild Bison bill was a good bill, and I did not want to see it die from lack of concurrence."
He added that he believes in the Second Amendment and understands the appropriation to HB41 was the only way some senators could register their support for gun rights in Wyoming.
Each member of Fremont County's state delegation voted for HB41.
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