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Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed HB 141 into law last week. The bill reforms state restrictions on First (freedom of religion) and Second (right to keep and bear arms) Amendment freedoms in the state. It repeals existing state law that bans concealed weapons in any place people are assembled for public worship.

From kemmerergazette.com:

Monday, March 12, Governor Mead signed HEA 34 (HB 141). This not a gun bill; it is a government bill. “Concealed Weapons in Places of Worship” is not about whether concealed weapons will be in places of worship or not. It is about whether church or state decides the matter, and whether it is enforced by guns or by the Word of God.”

Short of armed guards and metal detectors, the only people who can keep guns out of the sanctuary are the worshipers themselves. This is as obviously true as it is routinely forgotten.

Worshipers whose piety prohibits armaments in the house of God will empty purses and pockets of knives and guns without being asked. Those who see no conflict between piety and what is in their purse may, or may not, be corrected by church authorities.

It is an entirely different matter when the state enacts a law. These neither depend on religious sensibilities, nor on respect for sacred spaces and clergy. Rather, state laws rest upon the threat of fines and incarceration. Such threats may, or may not, persuade worshipers to leave weapons at home. But they definitely do invite secular power into the church.

HB 141 was wildly popular, passing 56-2 in the House and 21-9 in the Senate after barely making it out of committee.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture is composed of five Republicans. Two of them, Senator Paul Barnard  and Senator Fred Emerich, voted no. Senator Fred Emerich voted against the bill on the Senate floor vote, while Senator Barnard changed his vote and voted for the bill.

The Senate Agricultural committee was the critical vote in getting the bill to the governor’s desk. A one-vote swing would have killed the reform bill. It often happens that way. Many bills which would pass the entire body are killed in committee, when no one is watching closely.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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  1. And that’s just bullshit too, separation of church and state, the state never had authority to give anyone that ‘privalage’.

  2. Is the Wyoming Senate’s “Agriculture, State and Public Lands & Water Resources Committee” a kill committee? Like Colorado’s “House State, Veterans and Military Affairs” committee?

    If not, what on Earth does a church or gun bill have to do with agriculture, public lands, or water resources?

  3. Wow, didn’t realize Wyoming was so anti gun. Always had church carry in anti gun Florida.

    • The source of the anti-gun animus in Wyoming is the same as the source of our bizarre and backwards alcohol laws – usually women.

      You wouldn’t believe how many females come out of the woodwork when liquor licenses come up for sale/transfer/etc in some communities in Wyoming. Same thing with gun issues – eg, guns on campus, guns in churches, etc.

      One of the reasons why this passed and you see a policy change now is that a female legislator who used to be a big wheel (ie, in the leadership in the assembly) in the legislature was retired by the voters – partly over the gun issue. She claimed to be a Republican, but voted like a Democrat on every bill that had anything to do with guns – for years and years. Finally, the voters decided it was time for her to go, and with her gone, you see bills like this make it through now.

  4. I live in Wyoming. I carried openly to church for ten years. Nobody ever had a problem with it. I still carry everywhere, just don’t go to church anymore.

    What surprised me was the passing of the “stand your ground” law recently. I’d have sworn we already had that.

    There are a lot of things decided in Cheyenne that nobody else pays any attention to. Wyoming is far from being anti-gun, stateisevil. Just stay out of the cities.

    • What surprised me was the passing of the “stand your ground” law recently. I’d have sworn we already had that.

      You may have had it implicitly.

      For example, while California doesn’t have a statute that expressly describes a right to “stand your ground”, it’s in the jury instructions regarding self defense. From CALCRIM No. 505:

      A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his
      or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of (death/great bodily injury/ [insert forcible and atrocious crime]) has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.


      • Yes, the “Stand Your Ground” law simply codifies existing practices.

        But it made sense to pass it. There are many examples where existing practices were changed without any real change in the law.

        One of the starkest example is the Right of Englishmen to Bear Arms. It was widely acknowledged in 1900. By 1980, it was widely assumed to be non-existent. It was killed with administrative changes by the ruling elite.

    • No, Wyoming was a “duty to retreat” state, in both statute and case law. It wasn’t as bad as Massachusetts, where you had to retreat inside your own home, but out in public, off your property – WY was a duty to retreat state.

  5. I live in Wyoming. The SYG bill goes into effect 7/1/2018. Until then, you still have a duty to retreat according to the letter of the law. As far as carrying in churches, currently one is supposed to get written permission from the head pastor of a church before carrying. So now we have a new law allowing carry in churches without written permission, however GFZ signs here carry the weight of law, so if a church puts the no gun sticker on the door, your not supposed to carry inside. If you get caught it is a trespassing issue and they can ask you to leave.

    Wyoming is very pro-gun. Something like 6/10 people here own guns, and we have permitless carry. The SYG bill became law without Gov. Mead’s signature, but he didn’t veto it either. Mead is a big gubmint rino, and last year vetoed a campus carry bill. The state legislature is full of rinos.

    • The SYG bill goes into effect 7/1/2018. Until then, you still have a duty to retreat according to the letter of the law.

      Can you post the statute that says one has a duty to retreat?

      I’m not necessarily doubting that assertion… it just seems odd for someplace like Wyoming.

      • The SYG language from what I understand was originally part of the language of our castle doctrine bill from 2008, however it was removed and one had no duty to retreat as far as their home or domicile is concerned. Out in public is different.

        I don’t have the actual law in front of me, I’m going off of what is posted here at Wyoming Gun Owners and also the book Self Defense Laws of All 50 States by Attorney Mitch Vilos which is actually a fantastic book.


        • From what I’ve found, the idea that WY has a “duty to retreat” might be based on a 2013 WY Supreme Court decision: Drennan v. Wyoming

          In that case, the court didn’t say there’s an absolute duty to retreat for someone who is not the aggressor. In fact, they dismissed that idea:

          The jury should be instructed that if it determines the defendant was the aggressor, he had a duty to withdraw or retreat before he could claim the right to self-defense. If, on the other hand, the defendant has not made a prima facie case that the deceased was the aggressor, the jury should be instructed on the defendant’s absolute duty to withdraw or retreat before self-defense will be recognized. In cases where the evidence establishes, as a matter of law, the defendant was not the aggressor, the jury should not be charged that he had an absolute duty to retreat. In all cases, the jury should be instructed that the defendant was justified in using deadly force only if necessary; consequently, he must consider reasonable alternatives, which may include retreat, before using deadly force.

          So, in the typical self-defense situation where the defendant is not the aggressor, there is no absolute duty to retreat. There may be a duty to retreat, but it would likely depend on other facts of the case.

    • A church that posts a GFZ sign is a church I wouldn’t attend. My church is filled with concealed carriers, starting with half the pastors. We understand that there is real evil in this world, and that Christ advised his disciples to sell their cloak to buy a sword.

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