State leaders criticize Biden gun restrictions

CASPER — President Joe Biden responded to a wave of gun violence throughout the country by announcing executive actions Thursday to curb the growth of homemade “ghost guns” and 3D-printed firearms without serial numbers, and require stabilizing braces to be subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. 

In response, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis and Gov. Mark Gordon made statements strongly supporting the Second Amendment. 

“The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms,” Cheney said in a news release. “I will always defend it. Actions like the ones President Biden took today infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans, while doing nothing to prevent criminals from committing the tragic attacks we have seen in communities across our country.”

In Boulder, Colo., where 10 people were killed at a King Soopers last month, the alleged shooter used a stabilizer on his pistol, making it act more like an assault weapon. 

The president’s executive actions are modest in comparison to the gun safety measures that supported his presidential campaign. Two federal gun control bills stalled last month after passing the House of Representatives, mostly along party lines. They sought to expand and reinforce background checks for gun buyers and lengthen the time the FBI has to screen flagged buyers. Still, Biden acknowledges that more aggressive measures on gun control would require support from Congress. However, the twin bills face an uphill battle in the 50-50 Senate. Republicans have already considered the bills too expansive. 

“Every day across Wyoming, we responsibly exercise our right to keep and bear arms,” Barrasso tweeted. “The last thing we need is for the president to infringe on our constitutional right to protect our homes and families.” 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 133 mass shootings four months into 2021. That includes two mass shootings from the past few days: one in Bryan, Texas, in which a gunman killed one person and injured five others and another in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where a gunman killed five people and wounded one. Gun rights supporters like Lummis say Biden’s changes won’t curb the rise in mass shootings. 

“The problem is still not the 2nd Amendment, and President Biden’s actions won’t stop evil people, just make it harder for law-abiding people in Wyoming to exercise their rights,” Lummis tweeted. 

At a news conference Thursday, Gordon made it clear that the Second Amendment is vital to the state. 

“There is no question that the Second Amendment (is a) constitutional right and Wyoming will stand firm against any attempt to erode that right,” he said. “... We are a Second Amendment state. We will protect our firearms at all costs. I just want to make that absolutely clear.” 

But according to Brian Shane, owner of Powder River Armory, Biden’s actions will have no effect on his business. 

“It won’t affect us,” Shane said. “It won’t have any impact. Asking the DOJ to look into armed braces and background checks on ghost guns, it won’t affect anything on sales with our brick and mortar.” 

Gun sales in the state and across the country have seen a significant uptick since the start of the pandemic last year. For Shane, the last three months have shown record sales, and he doesn’t expect a change in trajectory. 

Gordon signed House Bill 236 on Thursday, which forbids financial institutions from discriminating against firearms businesses. He also signed two other firearm-related pieces of legislation earlier in the week, including Senate File 155, which seeks to prevent the government from enforcing restrictions on “Wyoming citizens’ lawful access to firearms” and House Bill 116, which allows people to carry a firearm without a permit within the state. 

“Wyoming is, has always been, and will continue to be a state where Second Amendment rights are recognized and protected,” the governor said in a statement. “I oppose any orders or actions imposed from the federal level that infringe on this fundamental right. I will relentlessly defend our Second Amendment and the Wyoming businesses involved in the firearms industry.”