GOA: Gov. Gordon Completely Wrong on Gun Free Zone Repeal

Gov. Mark Gordon just vetoed historic legislation to repeal most of Wyoming’s gun free zones, and his reasoning is incredibly dangerous for constitutionally-protected rights.

In a foolish statement accompanying the veto, Gordon cited concern over infringing on “local control” to justify the decision, and it’s imperative the public understand the ramifications of this flawed logic as their lawmakers in the State Legislature weigh a special session and potential veto override.

The underlying bill, which received the support of 83.5% of lawmakers in Cheyenne, would permit those carrying a concealed handgun to carry in most government buildings, on public school grounds, and on higher education campuses.

Given that 94% of mass shootings (including several high-profile school shootings) occur in gun free zones, it was no shock that Wyoming’s lawmakers, who overwhelmingly understand their constituents’ respect for the Second Amendment, got this bill to the governor’s desk. At the end of the day, when seconds count, you are your own best defense.

Despite the overwhelming support, Gov. Gordon argued this repeal “erodes historic local control norms by giving sole authority to the Legislature to micromanage a Constitutionally protected right.” Sadly, he doesn’t seem to realize that constitutionally-protected rights can’t be micromanaged at all—hence “shall not be infringed.”

Sure, most readers would agree that local control is often the wisest course of action in politics, just as our founders did. However, this doctrine does not grant the authority to infringe on certain rights, like those protected in our Constitution. There is a myriad of examples in our history where local control led to gross constitutional violations, and in this debate, one must keep these chiefly in mind.

Just a few short years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic emboldened local authorities in numerous jurisdictions to shut down houses of worship, in stark violation of Americans’ First Amendment rights. This is the most compelling and relatable recent example for readers of where this doctrine can go very wrong.

Additionally, given Wyoming’s groundbreaking role in expanding the right to vote near the turn of the 20th century, one should consider how “local control” was weaponized in this same period in the Jim Crow South to deny the right to vote to a select class of citizens. One can find countless instances where local poll taxes and literacy tests were implemented to bar black Americans from exercising their newly ratified 15th Amendment right to vote.

While an important philosophy, “local control” cannot be justified in situations addressing constitutional rights, as the examples above confirm. While the courts ultimately overturned these aforementioned violations, gun owners would much prefer to avoid the need for court relief entirely.

Statistically speaking, concealed carry holders are among the most law-abiding citizens in America—they even commit crimes at a lower rate than police officers. On top of that, many other states, including those that are far bluer than Wyoming, already allow the carrying of firearms in the types of facilities Gov. Gordon thought too risky to permit.

By asserting that a local authority should have control over one’s Constitutional Rights, the governor is diluting the robust protections the Constitution guarantees.

Lawmakers in both chambers of the Legislature are calling for a special session to override the veto, and Gun Owners of America joins them in this demand. One’s inherent right to self-defense shouldn’t stop at an imaginary line that a criminal certainly will not obey.

by Mark Jones
GOA Wyoming Director
Buffalo, Wyoming

Read more at Cowboy State Daily