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Heard on NRA Radio: The House in Wyoming just passed overwhelmingly the first of three voice votes needed to send its "Vermont" bill to the Senate.

If successful, Wyoming will be one of three states in which no license is required to carry "concealed."

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Gun groups back Wyo suit

Associated Press writer Friday, September 08, 2006

CHEYENNE -- Two national gun rights groups are supporting Wyoming's lawsuit over a federal agency's rejection of a state law that allows people with misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence to petition in state court to regain their right to carry guns.

The National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners Foundation have both filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting Wyoming's challenge against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Wyoming filed suit in May against the ATF claiming it exceeded its authority by rejecting the state law, which was passed in 2004.

Federal law prohibits people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning guns.

Although Wyoming's law allows people to petition to expunge such convictions for purposes of restoring their gun rights, it would still allow the original conviction to count against a person as a previous conviction if he ever got in trouble with the law again. ATF says that means the state law doesn't allow full expunging of a person's record, and that person would still have a conviction with regard to the federal prohibition.

Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank said Thursday that ATF officials told his office that they wanted the state to take steps to repeal the law and wanted Crank himself to stop approving concealed weapons permits for anyone who had had rights restored under the state law.

Crank said ATF threatened that unless Wyoming complied with the agency's demands, it would instruct all firearms dealers in the state to quit accepting Wyoming concealed weapons permits as proof that a person was eligible to purchase firearms without going through the regular federal background check procedure.

The state itself requires background checks, including fingerprinting, before it issues concealed weapons permits to applicants. Crank's office handles the permitting process for concealed weapons permits.

When Wyoming filed the lawsuit, the ATF agreed not to revoke the ability of Wyoming's nearly 11,000 concealed weapons license-holders to buy guns without going through the federal background check while the litigation was pending. Crank, meanwhile, agreed not to issue concealed weapons permits to anyone who had gone through the state procedure to restore his gun rights while the lawsuit is pending.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal issued a statement on Thursday saying he's pleased that the state has the support of the NRA and the Gun Owners Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.

"I'm heartened that the NRA and the Gun Owners Foundation have joined our efforts to stand up to the heavy-handed tactics of the BATF," Freudenthal said. "BATF's threat to further burden Wyoming citizens who have already invested their own time and effort to qualify for a concealed weapons permit is completely unnecessary."

Attempts to reach Matt Mead, U.S. attorney for Wyoming, or others in his office for comment on the case were unsuccessful on Thursday. Crank said the ATF hasn't yet filed a response brief in the case. U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson is presiding over the case and has scheduled oral arguments for Oct. 6 in Cheyenne.

Crank said his office has issued only one concealed weapons permit to a person who went through the procedures of having rights restored after a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. He declined to name the person.

"The crux of the dispute is, federal law real clearly says it's our determination," Crank said. "If you look to determine if someone has a firearms disability, you look to state statutes."

Crank said the ATF doesn't like the state law, but said, "That's too bad; that's not their call."

In its brief in support of the state's position, the NRA likewise argues that Wyoming has authority to restore the gun rights of people who have criminal records.

"In short, Wyoming could easily restore the rights of its most violent felons by simple legislative fiat," the NRA brief says.

The Gun Owners Foundation, in its brief, states that ATF has no authority to decide whether Wyoming's concealed weapons permit qualifies as an alternative to the federal background check system for purchasing guns.

Comment: Our usual apologists claim: "Don't blame LE, they don't make the law, they just enforce it". Here's one of many cases where federal LE has misconstrued their authority under rulemaking, to invent law. And if you look at the underlying issues here, there is no compelling safety issue even proffered. Its simply a case of unbridled, arrogant abuse of authority. Another day's work for B.A.T.F.E.

What's also interesting is this has transpired without identifying a single federal individual (ATF or USAA) who's responsible for pushing this abuse. Lovely.
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