Wyoming in 'No Danger' of Losing More Gun Rights
by Ari Armstrong, June 19, 2003
I was invited to speak June 14 at the annual meeting of the Wyoming State Shooting Association in Casper. I couldn't help but wonder, as I drove through the state, whether it will become the home of the Free State Project. Regardless, as I gave my address ("How Colorado Gun Owners Fought Back -- And Won"), I mentioned I'd like to see more cooperation among liberty-minded people in our general region. Colorado liberty activists have good friends in Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada.
Members of the board for the Wyoming State Shooters Association meet June 14 in Casper. L-r: Beverly Spungin, Roger Sebesta, Mark Spungin, Pete Moore, Phil Morgan, Richard Bohling, and Dick Smith.
With a total state population about the size of the population of the city of Denver (fewer that half a million), Wyoming gun owners face a different political atmosphere than do their counterparts in Colorado. In many respects, Wyoming reminded me of Colorado's Western Slope, where even the Democrats support the right to keep and bear arms.
In fact, Democratic State Senator Keith Goodenough addressed the WSSA meeting. Apparently, he does not find favor in the strongly Republican legislature, especially when he runs his bills to legalize medical marijuana (something I obviously favor). But Goodenough's message was, well, more than good enough for me.
Goodenough assured the WSSA their rights of self-defense were in "no danger" from the state legislature. "I support the right to bear arms... your association has a lot of friends in Wyoming," he said. He added, "States' rights, free speech, the Bill of Rights -- they all fit together." He noted the so-called "PATRIOT II" proposal poses a "big danger to individual liberties." Goodenough could teach Colorado legislators from both parties a few things about good government.
The WSSA is involved with numerous events to teach responsible shooting to adults and youth. However, one member noted, "People who don't shoot won't come on their own." Instead, they come and have a great time if they're invited by a friend. President Mark Spungin said that, to "even have an association in 20 years," gun owners have to get the youth involved.
Members also discussed the WSSA's presence at an "Expo" event, and they reviewed the difficulties in getting Arizona to recognize reciprocity for concealed-carry permit holders. They also discussed their program to help students attend the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs.
Whereas Colorado has several politically-involved gun groups (Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the Colorado State Shooting Association and the Firearms Coalition, the Pro-Second Amendment Committee in Grand Junction, the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition in Colorado Springs), the WSSA seems to be it for Wyoming. Of course, Wyoming gun owners don't face the opposition of the Denver-Boulder corridor.
Spungin, a one-time Libertarian candidate, also serves as State Marksmanship Coordinator for the Wyoming National Guard. I enjoyed meeting him and the other members of his group, and I hope relations can be maintained and expanded across state borders.