On March 2, 2011, Wyoming’s governor signed into law a bill that allows any individual who would qualify for a concealed weapons permit under the state’s existing permitting scheme to carry a concealed weapon without obtaining a permit. As described below, Wyoming’s permitting system remains in place, and there are still reasons why one might choose to obtain a concealed weapons permit. For example, holders of Wyoming concealed weapons permits are also allowed to carry concealed weapons in some other states, and a Wyoming concealed weapons permit exempts the holder from the federal requirement of a background check prior to purchase of a firearm.1
For persons seeking permits to carry a concealed weapon, Wyoming operates as a “may issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement has some discretion in determining whether or not to issue a concealed weapons permit to an applicant. In Mecikalski v. Office of Att’y Gen., the Supreme Court of Wyoming held that a local sheriff and chief of police correctly denied plaintiff’s application for a permit when those officials deemed plaintiff a danger to the community at large, as authorized by statute.2 While the plaintiff had met all qualifying criteria for a concealed firearm permit,3 the court found that the legislative intent behind Wyoming’s concealed carry permitting scheme clearly allows local law enforcement to use their discretion when issuing firearms permits.4
The Wyoming Attorney General is authorized to issue a permit to carry a concealed firearm if the applicant:
- Is a resident of the United States;
- Has been a resident of Wyoming for at least six months (this requirement does not apply to any person holding a valid concealed firearm permit issued in another state that recognizes Wyoming permits and that is a valid statewide permit);
- Is at least 21 years of age (or at least 18 years of age if the local sheriff makes a personal recommendation on the applicant’s behalf);5
- Is not prohibited by federal or state law from possessing a firearm;6
- Does not suffer from a physical infirmity that would prevent the safe handling of a firearm;
- Has not been committed to a state or federal facility for the abuse of a controlled substance within the previous year (in 2010, Wyoming loosened this requirement so that a commitment only disqualifies a person if it occurred within the last year);
- Has not ever been convicted of certain state or federal felony crimes relating to controlled substances, and has not been convicted of certain state or federal misdemeanor crimes relating to controlled substances within the previous year (in 2010, Wyoming loosened this requirement so that misdemeanor drug convictions only disqualify a person if they occurred within the last year);
- Does not chronically or habitually use alcoholic liquor or malt beverages to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired, and has not been involuntarily committed within the past one year period to any residential facility as a result of the use of alcohol (in 2010, Wyoming loosened this requirement so that a commitment only disqualifies a person if it occurred within the last year);
- Demonstrates familiarity with a firearm by past experience or through the completion of certain safety or training courses;
- Is not currently adjudicated to be legally incompetent; and
- Has not been committed to a mental institution.7
A permit may also be denied or revoked if the applicant has been found guilty of, or has pled no contest to, one or more misdemeanor crimes of violence within the last three years.8
The sheriff of the applicant’s county of residence is required to submit a written report to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (Division) containing any information pertinent to the issuance of the permit.9 The report shall state any facts “which establish reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant has been or is reasonably likely to be a danger to himself or others, or to the community at large as a result of the applicant’s mental or psychological state, as demonstrated by a past pattern or practice of behavior, or participation in incidents involving a controlled substance, alcohol abuse, violence or threats of violence as these incidents relate to criteria” listed above.10
Firearm Safety Training
An applicant for a concealed weapons permit in Wyoming is required to demonstrate familiarity with a firearm.11 Any of the following activities constitutes sufficient familiarly under Wyoming law:
- Completion of any certified firearm safety or training course utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Wyoming law enforcement academy;
- Completion of any law enforcement firearms safety or training course or class offered for security guards, investigators, special deputies, or any division of law enforcement or security enforcement;
- Experience with a firearm through participation in an organized shooting competition or military service;
- Completion of any firearms training or safety course or class conducted by a state certified or National Rifle Association certified firearms instructor;
- Certified as proficient in firearms safety by any Wyoming law enforcement agency under procedures established by that agency; or
- Honorable retirement as a federal or state peace officer who has a minimum of ten (10) years of service.12
- Proof of the above qualifying activity must be provided by submission of one of the following documents:
- A legible photocopy of a certificate of completion of any of the courses or classes;
- A notarized affidavit from the instructor, school, club, organization or group that conducted or taught the course or class attesting to the completion of the course or class by the applicant; or
- A copy of any document which shows completion of the course or class or evidences participation of firearms competition.13
An interesting distinction created by the March 2, 2011 bill regarding concealed weapons, referenced above, is that it exempts those individuals who choose to carry a concealed weapon without obtaining a permit from the requirement of demonstrating familiarity with a firearm. Thus, under Wyoming’s new concealed carry law, individuals who carry a concealed weapon without a permit are subject to all of the same requirements as concealed weapons permittees, except this one.
Duration & Renewal
A Wyoming concealed firearm permit is valid for five years.14
Disclosure or Use of Information
Any list or other record maintained by the Division or other law enforcement agency under Wyoming Statutes Annotated § 6-8-104 that identifies an individual applicant or permittee is not considered a public record.15 Applications, listings and other records that identify an individual shall be made available to other law enforcement agencies for purposes of conducting official business.16
The Division of Criminal Investigation within the Office of the Attorney General is required to maintain an automated listing of concealed permit holders and pertinent information, which it must make available on-line, at all times, to all Wyoming law enforcement agencies.17
The sheriff of the applicant’s county of residence must notify the chief of police, if any, of the applicant’s place of residence about any application for a concealed firearm permit, and the chief of police must submit written comments to the Division under the guidelines prescribed in Wyoming Statute § 6-8-104(g).18 Any submitted comments shall not be considered a public record.19
The Division is required, by March 1 of each year, to submit a statistical report to the Governor and to the “joint judiciary interim committee” indicating the number of permits issued, revoked, suspended and denied in the past year.20 This report is considered a public record.21
Wyoming law allows any non-resident to carry a concealed firearm in Wyoming, provided that person holds a concealed firearm permit issued by a governmental agency or entity in his or her home state that is valid throughout that state, and the home state must recognize Wyoming concealed firearms permits.22 In 2010, Wyoming removed the requirement that the home state have laws similar to Wyoming’s concealed carry statute as determined by the Wyoming Attorney General, including a requirement for a proper background check of the permit holder.
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- See, e.g., Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Aug. 19, 2015), at: https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/permanent-brady-permit-chart.
- 2 P.3d 1039, 1046-47 (Wyo. 2000); see also Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(g), which authorizes a sheriff to deny a permit for a concealed weapon to anyone who has been or is reasonably likely to be a danger to himself or others, or to the community at large.
- Mecikalski, 2 P.3d at 1046-47. The qualifying criteria for a concealed weapon are detailed under Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104.
- See Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(j).
- See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-102; also see the Wyoming Prohibited Purchasers Generally section).
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(b).
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(c).
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(g).
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(b)(vii).
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(b).
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(bb).
- Wyo. Stat. §6-8-104(n) and (y)(i).
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(g).
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(z).
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(bb).
- Wyo. Stat. § 6-8-104(a)(iii).