The Wyoming Senate on Wednesday approved a heavily amended version of Senate File 81, The Second Amendment Preservation Act.
By: Zack Spadt
But the primary sponsor of the bill, Sen. Anthony Bouchard argued that the changes made on the third and final reading of Senate File 81 "gutted" the bill. Bouchard ended up voting against the final version of the legislation.
Even so, the amended version of the bill passed the Senate on a 24-6 vote and will now go on to the Wyoming House of Representatives. Before being amended on Wednesday, the bill would have allowed for Wyoming law enforcement agencies who enforced certain federal gun control measures enacted after April 1 that fall into certain categories to be liable for up to a $50,000 fine.
Those measures would include taxes that specifically target guns and gun accessories, gun confiscation programs, efforts to track gun owners, and some other gun control efforts.
But in the Senate on Wednesday, Sen. Larry Hicks [R-Carbon County], put forth an amendment that did away with penalizing Wyoming law enforcement agencies. The bill would instead allow any group of 25 or more state residents to ask the Wyoming Attorney General to declare a federal gun control law as being unconstitutional.
The Attorney General and the Governor could then issue an executive order prohibiting the enforcement of the law in Wyoming. The state could also sue the federal government over the law, and Wyoming would defend in court any resident of the state who is prosecuted for violating the federal law in question.
Supporters of the amendment argued that it unfairly puts law enforcement in an unfair position and that it was based on the "nullification" of federal laws by the state. They say such state nullification efforts have repeatedly been found as unconstitutional and struck down in court, and that the original version of Senate File 81 would be virtually certain to suffer the same fate.
Sen. Bouchard was not happy with the amended version of the bill. ''We can't fool people with this bill" he said. He went on to say ''How can I trust any of this? The bill was simply a bill to say 'don't enforce it..now we talk about lawyers and court and what we are doing here...oh, please, let me get down on my knees and beg for my rights." He went on to say of the amended bill "It's a joke."
But several of his Senate colleagues took a very different view of the bill. Sen. Drew Perkins [R-Natrona County] said "At the end of the day, what we are looking for is (action) against federal overreach. The bill as amended now keeps our law enforcement from being caught in the crossfire."
Sen. Tara Nethercott told her fellow Senators that if they wanted to create more jobs for lawyers, they should vote for the original version of the bill and against the amendment. She at another point called the original bill "unconstitutional on its face."
Here is how the Senate voted on the final version of the bill as amended:
Ayes: ANDERSON, BALDWIN, BITEMAN, BONER, CASE, COOPER, DOCKSTADER, DRISKILL, ELLIS, FRENCH, FURPHY, HICKS, HUTCHINGS, KINSKEY, KOLB, KOST, LANDEN, NETHERCOTT, PAPPAS, PERKINS, SCHULER, SCOTT, STEINMETZ, WASSERBURGER Nays: BOUCHARD, GIERAU, JAMES, MCKEOWN, ROTHFUSS, SALAZAR