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Legal Information: Wyoming

Wyoming State Gun Laws

State Gun Laws

Basic Info and Definitions

What is the difference between federal and state gun laws? Why do I need to understand both?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both “federal gun laws” and “state gun laws.” The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself. Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws. Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well. You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws. Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws. If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor. If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor). For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun? If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

What is the definition of a felony?

A felony is a more serious crime than a misdemeanor. Throughout these gun law pages, we will refer to laws that make it illegal for someone convicted of a felony to have a gun. A felony under Wyoming state law is a crime that is punishable by death or by a prison sentence of more than one year.1

If you are unsure if the abuser was convicted of a felony, you might want to talk to the prosecutor who handled the criminal case against the abuser to find out or go to the courthouse and search the conviction records.

1 WY ST § 6-10-101

I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

Wyoming state law says that a person cannot have or buy a gun if the person has been convicted of a violent felony, an attempted violent felony, or any felony where a peace officer was injured.1

Additionally, Wyoming has a law called the Firearms Freedom Act (FFA), which says that guns that are manufactured in Wyoming and kept in Wyoming at all times are excused from the federal gun laws limitations on firearms.2 However, the FFA does make it illegal for someone to have or buy one of these Wyoming-made guns that are always kept in Wyoming if any of the following apply:

  1. s/he was convicted of a felony in any state or territory of the United States;
  2. s/he is currently considered legally incompetent by a judge in a court order;
  3. s/he is or has been committed to a mental institution; or
  4. s/he is under age 18, for a rifle or shotgun, or under age 21, for a handgun.2

It is not clear if Wyoming state lawmakers are allowed to pass a law that says the federal firearms laws do not apply. Please talk to a lawyer who is familiar with the Wyoming FFA for advice about your situation if you believe that the abuser has a Wyoming-made gun that has always been kept in Wyoming.

Although Wyoming does not have specific gun restrictions that apply when an order of protection is in place, you can still ask the judge to include a provision in your order that forbids the abuser to have, own, or buy a gun. The judge is allowed to grant “other injunctive relief” that is necessary to protect you, which can include gun restrictions.3

There is a box on both the ex parte order of protection form and the final order of protection form, which allows the judge to order that the abuser cannot have or buy a gun.4 If the judge includes gun restrictions in your order, then it may be unlawful for the abuser to have or buy a gun under Wyoming state law. In addition, federal law, which applies to all states, makes it illegal to have a firearm when a final order of protection is in place. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 WY ST § 6-8-102
2 WY ST § 6-8-404(c)
3 WY ST § 35-21-105(a)(vi)
4 See DV Ex Parte Order of Protection form and DV Order of Protection Form

Guns and Protective Orders

I have an order of protection against the abuser. Can s/he have or buy gun?

Although Wyoming does not have specific gun restrictions that apply when an order of protection is in place, you can still ask the judge to include a provision in your order that forbids the abuser to have, own, or buy a gun. The judge is allowed to grant “other injunctive relief” that is necessary to protect you, which can include gun restrictions.1

There is a box on both the ex parte order of protection form and the final order of protection form which allows the judge to order that the abuser cannot have or buy a gun.2 If the judge includes gun restrictions in your order, then it may be unlawful for the abuser to have or buy a gun. In addition, federal law, which applies to all states, makes it illegal to have a firearm when a final order of protection is in place. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 WY ST § 35-25-105(a)(vi)
2 See DV Ex Parte Order of Protection form and DV Order of Protection Form

Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get an order of protection?

Depending on the judge in your case, there may be some things you can do to increase the chances that the judge will require that an abuser’s guns are taken away. Keep in mind these tips may or may not result in the outcome that you are hoping for. Every judge is different. However, here are a few suggestions that may help:

  • If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever shown you the guns or displayed them as a way to intimidate you and maintain control over you.
  • Ask the judge to specifically write in your protective order that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect. The form that you will have to fill out to petition for a protective order will have a place where you can request additional protections. You can ask that the abuser’s gun(s) be taken away in that section.
  • It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser’s guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the protection order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:
    • require the abuser to give his/her guns to the police, or require the police to go to the abuser’s house and get them;
    • make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
    • order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.
  • If the gun restriction is granted, check to make sure that it is written on your order before leaving the courthouse.

Guns and Criminal Convictions

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

Wyoming state law says that it is a felony for the following persons to have or use a gun:

  • anyone convicted of a violent felony or an attempted violent felony;
  • anyone convicted of a felony for causing injury to a peace officer.1

Additionally, Wyoming has a law called the Firearms Freedom Act (FFA), which says that guns that are manufactured in Wyoming and kept in Wyoming at all times are excused from the federal gun laws limitations on firearms.2 However, even with the FFA, a person cannot have or buy one of these guns if s/he was convicted of a felony in any state or territory of the United States.2

It is not clear if Wyoming state lawmakers are allowed to pass a law that says the federal firearms laws do not apply. Please talk to a lawyer who is familiar with the Wyoming FFA for advice about your situation if you believe that the abuser has a Wyoming-made gun that has always been kept in Wyoming.

1 WY ST § 6-8-102
2 WY ST § 6-8-404(c)

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records. Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so. To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

The Abuser Isn't Supposed to Have a Gun...Now what?

Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the state police. If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our WY Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in Wyoming on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer.

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our WY Advocates and Shelters page.

Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law. If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.1

1United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

What is the penalty for violating firearm laws?

Anyone who owns, has, or buys a gun that was previously convicted of attempting to commit or committing a violent felony, or a felony that caused harm to a peace officer is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment of up to three years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.1

In addition, federal law, which applies to all states, makes it illegal to have a firearm when a final order of protection is in place. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 WY ST § 6-8-102

What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by federal firearms licensees (FFLs), such as firearms dealers or pawnbrokers, to instantly determine whether someone is eligible to receive (own, possess, transport) firearms or explosives.1 If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from legally buying a gun. Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system. Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales and so in those situations, the seller is not looking in the NICS.

If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.

1National Criminal Justice Reference Service website

More Information and Where to Get Help

I do not have an order of protection against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Can s/he have a gun?

Under Wyoming state laws, there are other circumstances aside from being convicted of a crime or having an order of protection against you under which a person can lose the right to own a gun but it only applies to guns that are manufactured in Wyoming and kept in Wyoming at all times, which falls under a law called the Firearms Freedom Act (FFA).The FFA makes it illegal for someone to have or buy one of these Wyoming-made guns that are always kept in Wyoming if any of the following apply:

  1. s/he is currently considered legally incompetent by a judge in a court order;
  2. s/he is or has been committed to a mental institution; or
  3. s/he is under 18, for a rifle or shotgun, or under 21, for a handgun.1

Even if none of these apply, you can still make a plan for your safety. See our Safety Tips page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety. See our WY Advocates and Shelters page to find a local domestic violence organization near you.

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun under other circumstances. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

For additional information on gun laws in Wyoming, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.

1 WY ST § 6-8-404(c)

I've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can contact the National Center on Protection Orders Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111, ext. 2.
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area – see our WY Places that Help page.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.