UW gun ruling appealed to Supreme Court

Lyle Williams, a Uinta County delegate to the 2018 Wyoming Republican Convention, carried an open firearm on the UW campus. He was one of several who defied UW’s policy at the convention. Williams is pictured here in a former photo. COURTESY PHOTO

LARAMIE — Attorneys for a Uinta County man asked the Wyoming Supreme Court Friday to rule on the power of the University of Wyoming to regulate guns on its campus.

Lyle Williams is appealing a ruling by Tori Kricken, the Albany County district court judge, which said earlier this month that the university can regulate and prohibit firearms on campus.

Williams was cited in 2018 for open-carrying a gun inside the university’s convention center during the state Republican party’s annual conference. Williams was one of many attendees who open-carried a gun with the intention of getting a citation and challenging UW’s gun policy.

If the state’s high court decides to take on the case, this will be the first appellate ruling on the university’s gun policy.

Jason Tangeman, Williams’ Laramie-based lawyer, has presented a number of questions that he would like the Supreme Court to review. He asked the court to answer whether UW is exempt from a Wyoming law that prevents government bodies lower than the legislature, such as cities and counties, from writing their own gun laws.

Elementary and secondary schools are exempt from that law, but the university is not, Tangeman has previously argued in the case.

Kricken ruled against Williams in 2018 on similar grounds to those in her July 2 opinion, but that ruling was overturned by the Wyoming Supreme Court last September. The high court found that Kricken had improperly ruled in the case, as circuit court Judge Robert Castor had not officially asked her for help in deciding the legal issues at stake in the case.

That Wyoming Supreme Court decision did not address the legality of the university’s regulation, as the ruling was limited to the procedural errors. Two of the five justices on the court argued that the court should have considered the regulation at that time.

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