Education leaders eye concealed gun bill with concern

Jan 18, 2013 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Administrators at Central Wyoming College are wary of a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons on campus.

House Bill 105 states that anyone with a valid concealed-carry permit issued by the state of Wyoming may carry a concealed weapon at any college or university facility without the written consent of the security service of the college or university.

Steve Barlow, CWC's director of student life and campus safety, said that concept concerns him.

"Having people being able to carry concealed weapons without having to get the OK through me is very concerning," Barlow said Tuesday. "We wouldn't know they had them, (and) a lot of accidents can happen."

The college's current policy does not allow any weapons on campus, but Barlow said this bill, if passed, would trump that rule. His emergency response team met this week and discussed the potential change.

"(We're) very aware of it," Barlow said.

He is especially concerned about the effect HB105 would have on police officers who may be called to respond to an emergency on the campus.

"They go look for where the threat is," Barlow said. "If people have their weapons out, (the police) won't know where the threat is and who the good guy is."

Riverton Police Department Chief Mike Broadhead was not as worried about the hypothetical scenario. He said officers assume everyone is armed until they find out otherwise.

"I don't think it's a big issue," Broadhead said Tuesday. "A free people ought to be able to be armed if they want to be."

Other schools

Fremont County School District 25 Superintendent Terry Snyder said he would like to see a training component incorporated into the bill, which also would allow people to carry concealed weapons at any elementary or secondary school facility in the state.

"Anybody that's going to carry a concealed weapon needs to have extensive training," Snyder said. "That would be a critical piece."

He pointed out that Riverton schools already are patrolled by three armed police officers who have spent hundreds of hours learning how to respond to a variety of emergency situations. People with concealed-carry permits do not have to undergo that type of extensive training, but Snyder said they should if they want to carry a firearm in a school.

"That's a huge responsibility for that person, and it can't be taken lightly," Snyder said. "There are a lot of concerns about the decision-making process an individual goes through."

Currently, he said, people are not allowed to carry guns in schools.

Wyoming Rep. Dave Miller, R-Riverton, said he approves of HB105, as well as two other pieces of legislation that have to do with gun rights. House Bill 104 provides that any federal law attempting to ban a semi-automatic firearm or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm will be unenforceable in Wyoming.

"After Jan. 1, 2013, it exempts Wyoming manufactured or owned weapons from being regulated by any new federal laws or executive orders," Miller said this week. "If someone tries to enforce (those laws), it would be a felony."

House Bill 103 says Wyoming gun regulations will be developed at the state level and not by smaller jurisdictions in the state.

"Cities, towns and counties will not be able to regulate the size or type of weapons," Miller said. "Only the state can."

All three bills were received Jan. 9 for introduction in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

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