Legislation expanding protections in cases where defensive force may be used is now headed to the desk of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.
The bill, HB 168, sailed through the state legislature on Friday after a 26-4 approval in the Senate and a 49-11 vote in the House. The bill widens areas where no duty to retreat exists and provides immunity from civil liability in aftermath of a reasonable use of force.
Sponsors argue the proposal corrects pitfalls in Wyoming’s self-defense laws, namely that its current Castle doctrine only allows for one to stand their ground in their home, while in public they would have to retreat from a threat.
“I don’t want to run,” said Rep. Tim Salazar, R-Dubois, an important House backer of the measure. “I want to defend the life of my 9-year-old that I love — and that means no retreat.”
The measure makes a number of changes to Wyoming’s justifiable use of force and self-defense laws, clarifying that a person attacked in a place they have a right to be has no duty to retreat before they use defensive force. In the event that force leads to a civil lawsuit, the person sued can seek a pre-trial hearing to decide if reasonable force was used, which would result in shortcutting the suit.
While some states never had a duty to retreat, Florida passed the first SYG law in 2005 and now at least 23 other states have similar guidelines.
Gun control advocates were against the measure while state and national Second Amendment groups said it makes critical changes to the state’s law and are urging Mead to sign the bill.
“Wyoming currently has no statutory provision excluding a mandatory duty to retreat for those who are assaulted, without fault, in a place other than the home,” said the National Rifle Association on the measure. “These bills recognize the realities of persons forced into situations where defensive force is necessary, and provide additional protection from civil liability and lawsuits arising from the use of defensive force.”
Mead has not commented on how he will treat the legislation. A Republican, he was endorsed and “A” rated by the NRA during his last election after he signed a permitless carry bill and a measure to strengthen Wyoming’s self-defense statutes.