When University of Wyoming Police Department Chief Mike Samp arrived at the Wyoming GOP Convention on Friday, he encountered Lyle Williams, a Uinta County delegate open-carrying a firearm in defiance of a university policy forbidding weapons on campus.
Williams was one Republican among many gathered in Laramie — at the UW Convention Center — for the 2018 Wyoming GOP Convention, which started Thursday and concludes today.
Williams was asked to leave and when he said he wouldn’t, Samp issued him a citation for trespassing.
A line formed, composed of other open-carrying delegates seeking their own citations.
“We all wanted a paper,” said Mike Lundgren, a delegate from Lincoln County.
Samp wrote just one citation, however, for Williams.
“I asked (Samp) how the state preemption statute and (the university policy) could be reconciled,” Williams said. “He said basically he’s not here to interpret the law, he’s just doing his job — which he was.”
University policy defines firearms — alongside everything from explosives to nunchucks — as “dangerous weapons” and bans them with a few exceptions, such as for law enforcement officers.
“No dangerous weapon may be stored or carried in or upon University facilities,” UW regulation 2-178 states.
“Any person carrying a dangerous weapon in a University facility is required to relinquish the weapon to the UW Police Department voluntarily or upon request.”
A deal was made, Williams said. Samp wrote Williams a trespassing citation, Williams agreed to remove his firearm and nobody else was asked to relinquish their guns.
“Given the political nature of this and the sensitivity of the Second Amendment issue, I feel that that is a sufficient reaction to the policy violation at this point,” Samp said shortly after. “I will certainly continue to monitor the situation. By no means do these folks pose any sort of — what I would consider — an overt risk to our campus community at this point. And just to ensure that, I’m going to stay on the premises until it’s completed.”
Williams said it was always his intention to be cited because it allows him to challenge UW’s gun policy in a court of law, where he believes it could be struck down.
“And so now we have a date in court where this can be adjudicated, rather than just arguing all the time,” Williams said.
“Now we have the opportunity to adjudicate this and resolve it once and for all.”
Natrona County delegate Michelle Sabrosky, who was still openly carrying a firearm following the incident, said the Republican Party is not supposed to have events where Second Amendment rights are infringed.
“It seems that the university thinks that their policy trumps state law,” Sabrosky said. “They’re a public university and so this is technically the taxpayer’s property.”
Lundgren said the other delegates will continue to support Williams.
“We will all come back and support him at his court date,” he said.