Two bills that would remove gun free zones in public places were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. The first bill, House Bill 136, would allow those with concealed carry permits to legally carry guns on the University of Wyoming and Community College campuses, including sporting events.
Supporters of the bill said that allowing people to carry guns will make the campuses safer. Many argued that it would especially provide protection for women.
Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence public policy director Tara Muir said sexual assault on campus should not be used as an excuse to allow guns on campus.
"Any inference that these victims would be safer if they were allowed to carry firearms on campus is demonstrating a misunderstanding of these types of crimes," said Muir. "College women are typically assaulted by someone they know, usually a friend, a classmate, star of the football or basketball team. So even if they had access to their gun, they would rarely be tempted to use it."
The University of Wyoming’s President Laurie Nichols has come out against the bill, along with Laramie County Community College President Joe Schaffer. The committee also approved House Bill 137 which will allow guns at government meetings.
Sheridan Senator Dave Kinskey voted in favor of both bills. He said he knows from his experience as a Mayor that guns are already present in public meetings, despite being illegal.
"We had a luxury in that we had a police force, so we always had an armed police officer there," said Kinskey. "There’s a lot of government meetings where they don’t have that luxury, where they have angry people. And I feel like a board member that’s law abiding should have that opportunity to carry if they have a concealed carry permit."
Both of the bills would require individuals to have concealed carry permits to carry a gun, and supporters say that requirement will allow only vetted individuals to take advantage.
Those in opposition to the bills say they will make public meetings and college campuses less safe. Opponents also say in the case of an active shooter, law enforcement would have difficulty telling the difference between the shooter and armed citizens.
Both bills will move to the Senate for more debate.