Members of ASUW traveled to Cheyenne on Wednesday to testify in front of the Wyoming Senate regarding open carry laws on UW’s campus.
Senators Courtney Thomson-Lichty and Daniel Kerbs were joined by Director of Governmental Affairs Chris Ryan and Vice President Tyler Wolfgang in addressing House Bill 136.
“Representatives from Faculty Senate and Staff Senate also spoke, along with Vice President for Government and Community Affairs [Brian] Boswell,” Ryan said.
ASUW passed a resolution in January after conducting a student poll on the subject of concealed carry. The poll showed students split on the issue with a difference of ten votes between those who approved of and those who rejected concealed carry on campus.
Ryan said the goal of yesterday’s testimony was to share ASUW’s concerns about limitless concealed carry on campus, and recommend that the Board of Trustees be given authority to designate spaces as gun free zones.
Those spaces include residence halls, labs and the UW Lab School.
“We testified that if the right to bear arms is without restriction in the Wyoming Constitution, the right to not bear arms must also exist,” Ryan said. “Students have the right to choose to live in an environment without guns.”
Ryan said that the residence halls serve as a home for the students who occupy them and they should be afforded the same rights as other citizens.
“In what environment is a citizen required to live with firearms?” Ryan said. “A good analogy is when the residence halls were smoking and non smoking, students got to choose.”
ASUW also shared concerns for the impact a bill allowing open carry on UW’s campus could have on both the Lab School and Pre-School’s accreditation processes.
No changes were made to the bill and it was advanced through committee.
“It was expressed to us that the reason for this, is because the committee would rather hash it all out on the floor of the senate, but that reason was not used in the committee debate itself,” Ryan said.
This trip to Cheyenne was only the first this month, as ASUW will speak again on Tuesday.
“ASUW will be taking a much larger delegation on Tuesday to lobby more for our stance on concealed carry, as well as the budget bill,” Ryan said.
The budget issue concerning ASUW is an additional $1.2 M cut from the University block grant as well as a “substantial chunk,” of facilities funds Ryan said.