The Second Amendment sanctuary movement has been around for at least five years now, but it is still very much a bottoms-up, grassroots campaign that’s primarily driven by 2A activists working in their own communities to put ordinances, resolutions, and even legislation in place that prohibit the enforcement of new federal (and in some cases, state-level) gun control laws.
In Wyoming, lawmakers are advancing a measure they’re calling the Second Amendment Protection Act, which would bar state agencies and political subdivisions from using “any personnel or funds appropriated by the legislature of the state of Wyoming or any other source of funds that originated within the state of Wyoming to enforce, administer or cooperate with any act, law, treaty, judicial or executive order, rule or regulation of the United States government that infringes on or impedes the free exercise of individual rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
Unsurprisingly, the legislation has drawn opposition from gun control groups like Everytown, which calls the bill a “dangerous measure” that would prevent the enforcement of “federal gun safety laws.”
More surprising is the fact that Wyoming Gun Owners is also opposed to the bill, because they say it doesn’t go far enough.
The act has the support of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, said Executive Director Byron Oedekoven, because it protects both citizens and law enforcement officers.
“From our perspective, it protects Wyoming’s citizens, it upholds the Constitution and it preserves the Second Amendment,” he said.
The bill has been criticized by Wyoming Gun Owners, whose spokesman Aaron Dorr said in a podcast it does not go far enough.
“We have a horrific bill, what a treacherous, intentionally, treacherous bill that provides no protection to gun owners…” Dorr said in his podcast last week. “And it’s being pushed by the worst people in the Legislature. It should make you angry, it should make you outraged.”
WyGO endorsed another measure, labeled the Second Amendment Preservation Act, that is basically a mirror of a law approved in Missouri last year; a law which is currently being challenged by several St. Louis-area government bodies as well as the federal Department of Justice.
I’ve defended the Missouri law in the past, and I continue to believe that the problems identified by law enforcement in the state are largely overblown, but I’m sure that the reaction and response to the new law in Missouri has had an impact on Republican lawmakers in Wyoming, who ended up shooting down the WyGo-endorsed bill in the first week of the legislative session. In fact, the vote wasn’t even close, with more than 2/3rds of the state Senate rejecting the measure.
The main difference between the Preservation Act and the Protection Act is that the Preservation Act would have allowed private citizens to sue individual law enforcement officers over alleged violations, while the Preservation Act relies on the state’s Attorney General to declare a federal gun law unconstitutional, which then allows the governor to mandate that such a law won’t be enforced within Wyoming’s borders.
To Dorr, the Protection Act is a toothless outrage that’s merely an election-year ploy supported by moderate Republicans, but it strikes me as odd that a state that’s already one of the most Second Amendment-friendly places in the country would be governed by folks who are secretly gun grabbers or hostile to your right to keep and bear arms. Could it be that these lawmakers may actually believe that the Second Amendment Protection Act is both more legally viable and practical to implement than the Second Amendment Preservation Act would have been?
I think that’s a definite possibility, though I’m sure that there are some personality conflicts in play here beyond the differences in legislative language. Dorr and his family’s network of state-level 2A organizations (which includes Wyoming Gun Owners) have been accused by Republican lawmakers in several states (including Wyoming) of existing to enrich themselves more than actually working to promote solid Second Amendment measures, and the current fight over the competing SAPA bills is just part of a broader back-and-forth between WyGo and many Republicans in the legislature that’s been going on for years.
From where I sit, it doesn’t look to me like those fights have been all that productive, given that neither version of SAPA has been approved despite being introduced in both 2020 and 2021. We’ll see if that changes this year, or if the objections from the likes of Everytown and Wyoming Gun Owners are once again enough to keep the status quo in place.