Wyoming concealed-carry law makes few ripples

2012-01-01T23:30:00Z Wyoming concealed-carry law makes few ripplesBy JOAN BARRON Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
January 01, 2012 11:30 pm  • 

CHEYENNE — Posted prominently at the entrance to Frontier Mall in Cheyenne is a large “weapons prohibited” sign.

It replaced a small sign previously posted at the side of the entrance, residents said.

The Veterans Administration Hospital also has a new large similar sign that replaces a smaller one, said Richard Gessell of Cheyenne, a veteran and gun collector.

“It’s a pretty good-sized sign at the main entrance right at eye level,” Gessell said.

The larger no-guns-allowed signs were placed after the new law allowing residents to carry concealed handguns without a permit went into effect nearly six months ago.

Sign sightings

Gun owners say they have noticed more of these signs in other businesses.

Otherwise, the new law has made few ripples in the state.

“All that stuff we heard about blood in the streets, it was hype,” said Anthony Bouchard, executive director of Wyoming Gun Owners Association.

The Division of Criminal Investigation in the state attorney general’s office reports no drop off in applications for concealed weapons permits.

Wyoming is one of only four states that allow residents to carry weapons without without undergoing background checks or firearms training.

The others are Alaska, Arizona and Vermont.

Wyoming gun owner want the permits so they can carry legally in the other states.

The new law is only good within Wyoming’s borders or in Alaska, Arizona and Vermont.

Kevin Smith, deputy director of the Division of Criminal Investigation, said the state has 23,000 active permits. This works out to about 4 percent of the state’s population of 563,000 in the 2010 census.

“The renewals are staying up,” Smith said.

Applications pick up in the spring because people are planning to travel and want to be able to carry a concealed weapon legally, he added.

Wyoming’s permits are recognized in 39 other states.

No issues

Byron Oedekoven, director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, said he hasn’t heard of any issues with the new law.

However he has heard concerns from Casper and Gillette about open carry of weapons to city council meetings, he added.

Before the law went into effect some law enforcement officials predicted an increase in the number of businesses prohibiting weapons.

Bill Weaver, a member of the Cheyenne Rifle and Pistol Club, said he foresees potential problems with businesses that post the small, easy to miss firearms prohibited signs.

“There is a potential for someone to get in trouble because they can’t see the sign at the front door,” Weaver said Friday.

Most members of the Cheyenne gun club won’t patronize businesses that bar weapons, he said.

“Gun people will not support that business,” Weaver added.

The Cheyenne gun club, which trains members in handling firearms and gun laws, has more than 500 members and a year-long waiting list.

“Our state is a pro-gun state. A lot of people hunt, fish and do shooting sports,” Weaver said.

Bouchard said gun rights advocates are watching Wisconsin, which recently passed a concealed carry permit law effective Nov. 1 and how businesses there respond to the signage issue.

He said insurance companies have raised a liability issue that is persuading some businesses against posting the no firearms allowed signs.

According to the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin, a business owner is not liable under state law if concealed weapons are allowed an an employee’s firearm accidentally discharges and injures a customer.

But the business owner is not immune from liability if the business bans concealed weapons and the same situation occurs. In that case the business could be sued for negligence for failing to enforce its own policy.

The Wisconsin law requires businesses to post orange signs at least 8.5 inches by 11 inches in a prominent place near all entrances to the building where firearms are prohibited.

People who ignore the sign can be charged with trespass and possible forfeiture of their concealed carry permit.

Wyoming’s law contains no specifics regarding signage or penalties for disregarding signs.

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

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