Wyoming law allowing guns without permit prompts doubts

SALMON, Idaho Thu Mar 3, 2011 7:48pm EST

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SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Gun-control advocates on Thursday called a new Wyoming law that allows residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit a "troublesome trend" in Western states.

Wyoming's Republican Governor Matt Mead on Wednesday signed the permit-free gun bill into law. Beginning July 1, residents who want to pack handguns will no longer have to undergo a criminal background check or show proficiency with a firearm.

"We feel it's a very troublesome trend," said Brian Malte, director of state legislation for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

The law brings to four the number of states, including Alaska, Arizona and Vermont, that don't require permits for concealed weapons.

Wyoming is among several Western states where conservative lawmakers are pushing gun measures this year.

Legislatures in Colorado and Montana are considering bills that would let residents carry concealed weapons without a permit.

In Idaho and Texas, Republican lawmakers are seeking to allow firearms on college campuses.

In Utah, legislation awaiting the governor's signature designates a Browning semi-automatic pistol the official state gun.

And a bill in Arizona would establish a Colt revolver as the state firearm.

In Wyoming, the Republican Legislature voted overwhelmingly in favor of permit-free packing of weapons.

"SLIPPERY SLOPE"

Rep. Allen Jaggi, the Wyoming Republican who crafted the measure, said guns were merely the vehicle for legislation that affirmed rights like the one to bear arms spelled out in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

He said guns in the right hands make a safer society.

"All a permit requirement does is stop law-abiding citizens from being able to defend themselves when they need to," Jaggi told Reuters.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb)

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