Wyomingites wanting to just grab a couple of friends and go target shooting could potentially be breaking the law if a federal bill introduced by a Massachusetts senator passes.
The Preventing Private Paramilitary Act of 2024 could potentially be used to ban just about any gun-related activity, Cody firearms instructor Bill Tallen told Cowboy State Daily.
“It would shut down even any three individuals going to the gun range to practice with firearms,” he said.
Supposedly Meant To Curb Extremism
The bill, U.S. Senate File 3589, was introduced last month by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts.
The bill’s stated intent is curb or prevent the formation and activities of armed extremist groups. Numerous loosely organized groups calling themselves “militias” sprang up around the county in the 1990s, and some remain active.
By strict definition, a militia is “maintained and raised by the state, and must answer to the governor,” Tallen said.
So, impromptu groups don’t qualify as actual militias.
Moreover, Wyoming already has a law on the books prohibiting unauthorized paramilitary groups, he said, although nobody has apparently ever been prosecuted under it.
That Wyoming law dates back to the 19th century and the Johnson County cattle wars, Tallen said. It was in response to some of the belligerent parties bringing in groups of hired guns in hopes of tipping the conflict in their favor.
But unlike Wyoming’s law, Markey’s bill is vague and wide open to abuse, he said.
For example, it would prohibit any group to “publicly patrol, drill or engage in techniques capable of causing bodily injury or death.”
“That could apply to pressing the trigger on any firearm ever invented,” Tallen said.