U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Wyoming is on the cusp of a needed improvement of their Constitutional Carry law. In 2011, Wyoming was only the third state to restore Constitutional Carry.
Constitutional Carry is a close approximation of the state of law that existed when the Second Amendment was ratified in the United States, in 1791. At that time, there were no permits required to carry weapons in most public spaces, either openly or concealed.
State governments and the Federal government did not impose legal burdens on the carry of weapons, openly or concealed, for two generations after the ratification of the Second Amendment.
Gradual infringements on the carry of arms were passed in some states in fear of slave revolts, newly freed slaves after the Civil War, and during the Progressive era.
Only one state refused to infringe on Second Amendment rights. It always had one of the lowest crime rates in the United States. It was Vermont.
As a growing movement called for constitutional limits to the advancing tyranny of the administrative state, Alaska restored Constitutional Carry in 2003.
Arizona, I am proud to say, restored Constitutional Carry in 2010.
Wyoming was the third state to restore Constitutional Carry, in 2011. The bill was not perfect. It had a flaw. It only applied to Wyoming residents. A person had to have been a resident for six months before it applied.
This compromise was required to get the bill passed. It was 95% of Constitutional Carry. The residency requirement would probably be ruled unconstitutional on equal protection grounds if challenged in court. This correspondent has not found any evidence it has ever been challenged.
It appears the flaw is about to be rectified.
The Wyoming legislature is in the process of passing HB116. HB116 removes the residency requirement for Constitutional Carry. It has already passed the Wyoming House, 56-4. It has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, 5-0. It will likely pass the Senate and be signed into law. It is a very simple change in the law:
(a) A person who wears or carries a concealed deadly weapon is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00), imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six (6) months, or both for a first offense, or a felony punishable by a fine of not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000.00), imprisonment for not more than two (2) years, or both, for a second or subsequent offense, unless:
(iv) The person does not possess a permit issued under this section, but is a resident of the United States and otherwise meets the requirements specified in paragraphs (b)(ii) through (vi), (viii) and (ix) of this section and possession of the firearm by the person is not otherwise unlawful.
The bold letters show the changes to the law. Currently, (b)(i) includes this language:
(i) Is a resident of the United States and has been a resident of Wyoming for not less than six (6) months prior to filing the application. The Wyoming residency requirements of this paragraph do not apply to any person who holds a valid permit authorizing him to carry a concealed firearm authorized and issued by a governmental agency or entity in another state that recognizes Wyoming permits and is a valid statewide permit;
The (b)(i) requirement for Constitutional Carry is eliminated by HB116, eliminating the requirement for Wyoming residency. It is left in place for the issuance of Wyoming permits, and reciprocity with other states.
There have been only three states which limited Constitutional Carry to their own residents. They were Wyoming, Idaho, and North Dakota.
Idaho removed its state residency requirement a year ago, in March of 2020. It appears Wyoming will remove its state residency requirement this year, although the bill has not yet been passed and signed into law.
Soon, only North Dakota will have a state residency requirement for Constitutional Carry.
This could change at any time. Iowa is very close to passing Constitutional Carry. The bill does not appear to have a state residency requirement.
Indiana and Tennessee are likely to pass Constitutional Carry reforms this year. It will not be certain whether either state will have a residency requirement until the final form of each bill is known.
Several other states have Constitutional Carry in process, which may or may not pass in 2021.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.