Wyoming digest

Feb 15, 2017 The Associated Press

Man arrested for shooting live rounds at show

CODY (AP) -- Police have arrested a man they say wounded three people by firing live rounds instead of blanks during a Wyoming gunfighter show last summer.

The shooting happened at the height of tourist season in Cody, a city named for the wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody.

Bullets struck one spectator in the legs and another in the chest as he held his 3-year-old daughter. The girl was wounded in the arm during the nightly Cody Gunfighters show July 29.

Police arrested 51-year-old Steve Winsor, of Cody, on Monday. He is charged with five misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment. He remained jailed Tuesday on $7,500 bond. He had no attorney and couldn't be reached for comment.

A police affidavit says Winsor told investigators live rounds got mixed up with his blanks.

Bill would limit how school districts could sue

CHEYENNE (AP) -- Wyoming lawmakers have advanced a budget bill that would prevent school districts from using state-appropriated funds to sue the state.

The Senate passed its budget bill on Friday and included an amendment that would stop districts' ability to take the state to court. Schools would still be able to use savings to fund any lawsuits they might file.

The amendment is notable because Wyoming lawmakers have been slashing education funding in order to deal with a projected $400 million annual shortfall. Lawmakers fear the cuts will lead to lawsuits.

A similar amendment in the House failed Monday.

If the House adopts a budget bitt, a group of lawmakers from the House and Senate will meet later to reconcile the differences between their legislating, including the lawsuit restriction.

State expects less money from gun sales

JACKSON (AP) -- Wyoming Game and Fish officials are anticipating a decline in gun sales that could hurt the agency's bottom line by reducing federal gun tax collections that are shared with the state.

The federal Pittman-Robertson Act imposes an 11 percent federal excise tax on firearm and ammunition sales, and proceeds from the tax are shared with state wildlife agencies across the nation, including Wyoming's.

In recent years, the funding has accounted for around 20 percent of the Game and Fish Department's operating budget. Agency Commissioner Charles Price said gun sales were robust under President Barack Obama.

"Obama's been our best fundraiser," Price said. "Our revenue under Pittman-Robertson went from about $5 million a year to somewhere around $15 million per year. That's a lot of money."

Pittman-Robertson funding is one of the reasons Wyoming Game and Fish is on stable financial footing now, spokesman Renny MacKay said.

At various times during the Obama administration, "there was pretty substantive concern among hunters and recreational shooters that somehow the administration might take regulatory steps to manage the purchase of firearms and ammo," said Ron Regan, executive director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. "People went out and bought those products with some amount of vigor."

Regan said gun owners may feel less compelled to stock up in the years ahead, which could drive down Pittman-Robertson income. State wildlife agencies must apply for the funding.

Rob Southwick, a hunting and angling economist, said gun sales are already showing signs of slowing.

"We do see them shrinking a little bit right now," Southwick said. "Numbers of firearm sales have gone down about 20 percent since this time last year."

Ammunition sales likely won't fall off as significantly because people are likely to keep using the firearms already in their possession, Southwick said. He also didn't anticipate gun sales falling as low as they were before Obama, owing to a "cultural shift" and a boom in target shooting.

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