Wyoming Gun Owners looks to hold legislative candidates accountable

2014-07-06T15:00:00Z Wyoming Gun Owners looks to hold legislative candidates accountableBy LAURA HANCOCK Star-Tribune staff writer The Billings Gazette

Wyoming Gun Owners, a Cheyenne-based organization that isn’t afraid to call out Republicans by name for not supporting its views on gun rights, asked legislative candidates whether they will force recorded votes on gun issues, even if their party leadership or colleagues protest.

“We will assume that a failure to answer any or all of the questions indicates an opposition to gun owners’ rights, and will report it as such,” an introduction letter attached to the 11-question survey states. “Caveats also indicate an unwillingness to follow WyGO’s lead to protect citizens’ rights.”

Lawmakers contacted by the Star-Tribune, both Republicans and Democrats, did not want to speak on the record about the survey because of their ill feelings toward the organization’s confrontational leader, Anthony Bouchard, who attacked a lawmaker’s stance on gun rights by mocking him during a heated debate on guns in 2013.

Lawmakers also claim he has misrepresented their stances on his group’s Facebook page.

Bouchard, who is also running for the Wyoming Senate as a Republican, did not return a message from the Star-Tribune.

“He’s a whack-a-doodle,” said Rep. Jim Byrd, D-Cheyenne, who doesn’t remember if he received Bouchard’s survey this year. If he did, he tossed it into the recycling, he said.

Byrd completed Bouchard’s survey in 2008, when he was a first-time candidate. But he never completed any subsequent surveys after he witnessed Bouchard’s beliefs and tactics, he said.

“They do not represent mainstream gun owners in the state of Wyoming,” said Byrd, who said he is a gun owner. “Their views are way too radical. I grew up in Wyoming. Bouchard didn’t. He has no reference points as to how you grow up in a society with a gun in the truck, a rifle in a rifle rack. And back then, they were all loaded.”

Bouchard has previously said he moved to Wyoming from Fresno, Calif. Byrd believes Bouchard’s insistence on carrying weapons in places such as public buildings is paranoid.

“The only time you’ll see my guns is when we take them to the range or when we go hunting,” he said. “I don’t feel Wyoming is that dangerous that I need to carry a sidearm.”

The survey’s introduction states that the questions will inform Wyomingites of candidates’ general views on gun rights.

“A warning: We expect legislators to live up to their word,” the introduction to the survey says.

At this time of year, candidates get inundated with surveys from interest groups, Byrd said.

Some of the interest groups aren’t even based in Wyoming, he said.

James Goossen

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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