CHEYENNE, Wyo. (March 3, 2022) – After clearing the state Senate last week, a Wyoming House committee has passed a 2nd Amendment “Protection Act” purporting to restrict enforcement of federal gun control. However, the language moving forward in the legislature will do nothing to make that happen in practice and effect. 

Fifteen Republicans introduced Senate Bill 102 (SF102) on Feb. 15. Titled the Second Amendment Protection Act, the proposed law would prohibit the state or any political subdivision of the state from using “personnel or funds appropriated by the legislature of the state of Wyoming or any other source of funds that originated within the state to enforce, administer or cooperate with any unconstitutional act, law, treaty, judicial or executive order, rule or regulation of the United States government that infringes on or impedes the free exercise of individual rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the Constitution.”

There are two significant problems with this language that make the proposed law utterly ineffective in practice.

  1. It doesn’t tell law enforcement to stop doing anything they’re currently doing.
    Without specific instructions to stop enforcing specific federal gun control measures, merely telling law enforcement to not enforce unconstitutional federal gun control means nothing changes in practice and effect. State and local law enforcement agents and agencies will continue to defer to the courts to rule something unconstitutional before ending enforcement. As we’ve seen for many years, without specifically defining what types of federal actions the state can no longer help enforce, the status quo doesn’t change.
  2. The language only prohibits the use of state appropriations to enforce federal gun control.
    Even if there was a concrete prohibition on enforcement, this text leaves the door open for the state of Wyoming to use federal funds to enforce federal gun control. With billions of dollars flowing into state and local law enforcement agencies from federal sources, this almost certainly ensures Wyoming police will continue to assist the feds in enforcement even with the passage of this bill. In fact, the language was likely written to specifically allow state and local law enforcement to work on federal task forces to enforce federal gun control.

“Passage of this bill just gives cover to the gun grabbers,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “It enables the politicians to grandstand on ‘protecting’ the 2nd Amendment, when in fact they’ve done absolutely nothing but protect the status quo of helping the federal government violate the 2nd Amendment.”

FIXES PROPOSED

The bill sponsors are aware of these issues. There have been efforts behind the scenes to amend the language to make the bill effective by specifically banning state and local enforcement of federal gun control. Proposed fixes were drafted and submitted, including language to specifically define what constitutes an unconstitutional infringement, then ban all state and local enforcement of such acts. (see the full text of recommended amendments/bill language here)

All of that hard work was for naught. The Senate passed SF102 last week by a 22-8 vote without making the necessary changes. The the House Judiciary Committee introduced some minor amendments but didn’t address either of these two fundamental problems. The committee passed this fake 2nd Amendment “Protection” Act by a 6-3 vote.

Earlier in the legislative session, the Senate voted not to introduce an actual 2nd Amendment Preservation Act (SF87) that would have specifically banned enforcement of federal gun control. That bill failed introduction by a vote of 9-20.

WHAT’S NEXT

SF102 will move to the House floor for further consideration. Amendments can still be proposed at that stage, and the pdf at this link has recommended text to improve the legislation. Should there be an unwillingness to improve the bill, the House should vote it down and get back to work in the next legislative session.

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