Wyoming Sheriffs Share Concerns Over Proposed Bill
Written by Andrew-Rossi on March 10, 2021
The top law enforcement officers in Wyoming are concerned the language of the 2nd Amendment Preservation Act will harm their efforts to enforce the law in the state.
The Wyoming Sheriff’s Association submitted a letter to the Wyoming Legislature to have their voices heard. Two potential pieces of legislation have caught the organization’s attention.
Senate File 81 and House Bill 124 – the Second Amendment Preservation Act. If enacted, federal laws “that limit the right to bear arms” would be invalidated in Wyoming. Anyone trying to enforce federal laws would be penalized.
The Sheriff’s Association supports both pieces of legislation but is concerned some of the wording would put them at risk of persecution and prosecution.
Sheriff KC Lehr, President of the Wyoming Sheriff’s Association, wrote and signed the letter. It has been reviewed and approved by all 23 county sheriffs in Wyoming.
“The Wyoming Sheriff’s Association, collectively and individually, hold the United States and Wyoming Constitutions in the highest regard. Our oath mandates that we support, obey, and defend both revered documents. We, the Wyoming Sheriffs, respectfully request that the Wyoming Legislature seeks laws that allow us to perform our duties while still protecting the law-aiding citizen’s right to keep and bear Arms, which we hold as an absolute. Yet, in the same manner, we also need the laws to allow us to protect those we serve.”
It’s the wording of one particular subsection that concerns Wyoming’s sheriffs: 6‑8‑409: Law enforcement employment ineligibility.
The section says any Wyoming officer who attempts to enforce federal law over Wyoming law will be punished. That officer “shall be permanently ineligible to serve as a law enforcement officer or to supervise law enforcement officers for the state or any political subdivision of the state.”
Such extreme action would be “an impossible dilemma” for Wyoming law enforcement. In the letter to the legislature, the Wyoming Sheriff’s Association argues that there’s more nuance to their work that requires changes to the proposed bill.
While Wyoming might be a 2nd Amendment haven, firearms are routinely seized and handed over to federal entities. Officers do this as part of the prosecution for serious crimes and cases.
Under the current language of the Second Amendment Preservation Act, officers could be penalized for assisting with the prosecution of criminals.
Crimes like aggravated robbery, child pornography, drug investigations, and several others have benefitted from turning over firearms to federal authorities. It might allow criminals to avoid the fullest extent of the law and keep the firearms they used to violate it.
Furthermore, an officer may seize a weapon and later return it to its owner once it’s permissible to do so. The Second Amendment Preservation Act currently won’t allow for this to occur without punishment.
The letter says this is striping officers of their qualified immunity in such cases. At a time when finding and retaining peace officers can be challenging, this “will negatively affect the professionalism of law enforcement across the state.”
There’s no call for the bill to be abolished – just amended.
All of Wyoming’s county sheriffs affirm their support for the bill. They just ask legislators to consider the needs of law enforcement officers before the bill becomes law.