The Wyoming chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following statement after the Wyoming lawmakers passed SF 81, legislation to nullify federal gun safety laws and SF 67, legislation to force guns into sensitive areas like public meetings, hospitals, and daycares out of the first chamber. Over the past week, the bills have already received widespread opposition from law enforcement and constituents.
“No one can deny that gun violence is a huge problem in our state, yet lawmakers continue to push legislation that could exacerbate this public health crisis,” said Beth Howard, a volunteer with the Wyoming chapter of Moms Demand Action. “With the highest rate of gun suicides in the country, it’s past time to prioritize gun safety. We will continue to show up, testify, and fight these dangerous bills.”
Research shows that allowing more firearms on school grounds and sensitive areas could be a serious risk to safety. And, guns on college campuses could increase the risk of gun violence and gun suicide for students. The rate of firearm suicide among young people (10-24) has increased 42 percent over the last decade – and access to firearms increases the risk of suicide by three times. This is the second year that legislation to force guns on school grounds. Last session, similar proposed legislation failed after significant opposition from the public, including parents, teachers, and students. During that time, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers showed up alongside education professionals and public safety experts to testify in opposition to the bill.
SF 81 attempts to nullify federal gun safety laws, including the laws that prohibit people with dangerous histories from having firearms. The legislation would encourage extremists to defy federal gun laws, and punish law enforcement officers for doing their jobs. Similar bills have been found unconstitutional and are widely opposed by law enforcement officers. Law enforcement officers are fighting on the frontlines of both COVID-19 and the gun violence public health crises and need lawmakers’ help more than ever.
Gun violence costs Wyoming $735.9 million each year, of which $14.2 million is paid by taxpayers. Lawmakers pushing these bills could add to this cost as adding more guns in schools, sensitive areas, and professional sporting events where alcohol is served can lead to more unintentional shootings and gun violence. Instead, they should be prioritizing legislation that is proven to save lives and prevent gun violence, such as secure storage or extreme risk legislation.
Statistics about gun violence in Wyoming are available here, and information on how Wyoming gun laws compare to other states overall is available here. To speak with Moms Demand Action and/or Students Demand Action volunteers, please don’t hesitate to reach out.