Nebraska lawmakers again debate gun bill on conceal carry
Latest iteration alters sentencing for misdemeanors; Omaha, Lincoln police chiefs still oppose it
LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Should Nebraskans be allowed to conceal a gun without a permit or training? Omaha’s mayor and the police chief for the state’s two largest cities oppose it.
If you want to carry a gun and conceal it in Nebraska, you must have a permit and take an 8-hour training class.
But State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon says carrying a gun — even concealing it — is a constitutional right, and that training isn’t something the government should be mandating.
“We don’t charge people to have freedom of speech. We don’t make them get permits. We don’t send them through special training,” he said. “All the other things that are rights, we tend to look the other way on.”
LB77 is Brewer’s priority bill, and it’s expected to be debated again Thursday morning.
Last year, a similar bill failed by two votes.
The new bill comes with changes — enough for the Omaha Police Officers Association to move its position from “opposed” to “neutral.”
Brewer said his bill would help law enforcement, particularly in rural areas. But Omaha and Lincoln police chiefs have not budged, saying the bill will make our communities less safe since anyone who’s allowed to have a gun would now be allowed to conceal it.
“Carrying a gun in public is a tremendous responsibility,” State Sen. Jane Raybould of Lincoln said. “Common sense public safety laws help keep guns out of places where they don’t belong. They also ensure those who carry in public have undergone background checks and gun ownership training.”
Brewer filed an amendment that stipulates if you were carrying a gun while committing “dangerous misdemeanors” you could be charged with an additional misdemeanor or in some cases a felony.
Other lawmakers argued that because changes in the amendment are so different from the original when it comes to violations, that it creates a new crime and should therefore qualify for another hearing for the public.
“It creates consecutive sentences for misdemeanors. We’ve used it on felony gun offenses in the past, but we have not used this historically on misdemeanors,” said State Sen. John Cavanaugh of Omaha.
Brewer believes he’s close to getting the votes this time.
“You’re missing the point,” he said. “The people who this law is for obey the law. If you don’t follow the law, you are a criminal, and this law is not intended anyway. We hear how background checks won’t be there; that doesn’t change.”
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