CHEYENNE — A bill that would allow people to carry concealed guns in Wyoming K-12 schools and on college campuses died in a Senate committee Friday after dozens of educators, administrators, police and others testified it would make schools and colleges less safe.
No one on the Senate Education Committee made a motion Friday to recommend House Bill 105, so the bill did not advance further in the Legislature. The measure passed the state House last week.
The bill would have lifted the current prohibition on carrying guns on school grounds for teachers, parents and guardians who have state-issued concealed carry permits, so long as they notify the school administrator. Anyone at least 21 years old with a permit could carry a gun on a college campus, under the bill.
Dozens of people packed the small Senate Education Committee room. The panel heard about an hour and 45 minutes of testimony from about 40 people. Roughly 30 expressed opposition to the bill.
Rep. Allen Jaggi, R-Lyman and the main sponsor of the bill, knew before the hearing that the numbers in the room were stacked against him, remarking that he felt "like Colonel Custer" as he addressed the committee to speak in favor of the measure.
Jaggi and other proponents noted that gun-free zones don't stop mass shootings like the December attack at a Connecticut school.
"It didn't seem to do much there," he said.
Strict gun laws only work to disarm law-abiding people who could intervene and stop a mass shooting before police respond, Jaggi said.
Gun advocates, residents and a University of Wyoming student supported the bill.
Opponents testified that allowing concealed weapons on school and college campuses would only hurt safety and endanger more people if there were a shooting.
"Our colleges and universities have to be safe and secure sanctuaries for learning," UW President Tom Buchanan said. "Weapons on campus or in the classroom would have a chilling and unacceptable impact on education."
Jason Vela, police chief with the Northern Wyoming Community College District that includes campuses at Sheridan and Gillette, said campus police would need new training on how to deal with situations where people other than the main shooter may be armed and involved.
"We've trained over the years for active shooters," Vela said. "We go take out the threat and usually that's the first guy you see with a gun."