Skip to comments.Concealed carry bill gets support(WY)
Posted on 02/08/2011 4:12:00 AM PST by marktwain
While not opposed to the idea of private citizens packing concealed firearms, some local law enforcement brass said they hope new legislation won't make it easier for the wrong people to tuck weapons away.
"One point that we can't lose sight of in the debate (over concealed weapons) is the weight of responsibility attached to a person if they choose to carry that weapon," said Powell Police Chief Tim Feathers. *
Senate File 47 would eliminate the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed firearm in Wyoming.
Sponsored by Sen. Kent Jennings, R-Casper, SF 47 passed the Senate in a 20-10 vote Jan. 24. It was received by the House for introduction on Jan. 27.
Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, voted for it.
"I just believe in our Second Amendment rights, our right to bear arms," Coe said recently of his vote.
Feathers and Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said they support the general principle of citizens arming themselves.
"I definitely support concealed carry; I have no problem with it," Steward said.
"When it comes to the whole issue of armed, law-abiding citizens, I have no concerns. I view them as our allies in public safety," Feathers said.
What's important, Feathers said, is that carrying by "prohibited persons and in prohibited places" remains illegal.
Prohibited people might include felons, those adjudicated to be mentally deficient, or people with chronic substance abuse problems, he said. Such places as schools should also remain off-limits to weapons, he added.
Because SF 47 includes those prohibitions, as well as stiffening the penalty for a second offense of illegally carrying from a misdemeanor to a felony, Feathers said he had no problem with the bill.
Statewide, some police chiefs and sheriffs have opposed it, saying it would make it more difficult for officers in the field to determine whether people are illegally armed.
Steward said he shares those concerns.
"I think the law in place is a good law," he said. "There's also nothing in place restricting somebody from open carry, so long as they are a lawful firearms owner."
Under the current law, a deputy or police officer simply has to ask to see a person's concealed weapons permit, he said. So eliminating that could complicate things, because it could make it difficult to immediately know if an armed person falls into any of the prohibited categories, Steward said.
"It's just really going to put a hurt and a hardship on officers in the field dealing with people with firearms," he said. "If you can't determine in the field if they are being unlawful, you can't seize that gun or arrest that person until you know."
Still, Steward, Feathers and Coe agreed that no law will keep all criminals from illegally arming themselves.
"I think the bad guys are going to have guns with or without permits," Coe said. "If they want to be a bad guy, they will find a way."
"The bandits who want to carry are going to carry," Steward said. "The gun laws affect only those who are law-abiding citizens."
Regardless of whether the permitting process remains in place, Steward and Feathers said people should take a proper training course before carrying a weapon.
Local law enforcement sometimes offers free training classes that focus on safe weapon handling and handgun marksmanship, Feathers said.
Safety courses also are available through private vendors, Feathers said, including some sanctioned by the National Rifle Association.
"One thing people must keep in mind if they make that decision to carry a firearm, they still have a responsibility to their neighbors to be able to lawfully and safely handle that weapon," Feathers said.
Why? The only purpose of such a prohibition is to delegitimize the exercise of our Constitutional rights.
Exactly. When the dranged lunatic is the only one in the scholl with a weapon, the results are predictable.
"The wrong people" will continue to "tuck weapons away" no matter how many laws are passed.