Wyoming Folks Should Be Careful Selling Guns to Coloradans

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

In most states that lack universal background checks, we don’t think too much about where someone is from if selling guns to them. We know we’re complying with the law and so long as they don’t set off any alarm bells for us, we conduct the transfer and call it a day.

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Some folks take precautions, often by offering discounts in exchange for showing a valid carry permit, but it’s not required.

And for someone who is surrounded by other pro-gun states, there’s not much to worry about.

But for folks bordered by an anti-gun state like Wyoming, there may be reasons to be cautious.

Crossing the state line from Wyoming into Colorado means crossing into a stricter, confusing patchwork of gun regulations that Wyomingites must be cautious about when selling firearms to their friends to the south, a legal expert said.

“I think a dealer would be well advised to not sell ARs to people from Boulder. In fact, I would hesitate to sell a gun to any Colorado resident since they have other weird laws, like banning ‘high-capacity’ magazines,” said Christopher Crofts of Cheyenne, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming.

No ARs In Boulder

Federal statute prohibits knowingly selling a firearm to someone from a place where that firearm would be illegal, Crofts told Cowboy State Daily.

Even so, Ryan Allen, owner of Frontier Arms in Cheyenne, told Cowboy State Daily that the primacy of federal regulations regarding what’s legal and what isn’t still covers him from potential blowback over local regulations in Colorado.

If somebody takes a firearm bought in Wyoming into a Colorado area where municipal regulations restrict it, “that’s on them, not on me,” he said.

He cautions his customers from the Centennial State to be keenly aware that what they buy legally in Wyoming might not be legal in their hometowns.

For example, restrictions on AR-15s in Boulder.

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I get where Allen is coming from, but I can also see how he could get jammed up legally if he knowingly sells an AR to someone from Boulder. In years past, that would be on the buyer, not the seller, but that was then.

Today, we live in an era when the ATF has essentially been weaponized. It’s entire existence now is to go after “rogue” gun dealers, which up until now has meant those who had some paperwork issues. I can’t help but believe that they’ll start coming after stores that have sold guns to people who live in jurisdictions where they couldn’t have that gun.

Which is likely where the former US attorney’s warning is coming from.

What should you do as a private party who might be selling a gun? That’s up to you. In Wyoming, selling guns to an individual doesn’t require you to conduct a background check. If you’re unaware that the guy you’re selling to is from Colorado, you have no reason to be concerned that he might not be able to have that gun lawfully where he lives.

But I can’t advocate for willful ignorance, either.

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Selling guns is always risky in a lot of ways. You could be targeted for theft, for example, but this adds a whole new wrinkle in an already tricky process.

Cover your own posterior is the best advice I can give.

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