EXPLAINER: A closer look at the implications of Nebraska’s incoming gun law

The Unicameral passed LB77 which is expected to put permitless conceal carry into effect by September.
Now that LB77 is passed -- questions remain about how gun charges will be handled with the new law.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 9:03 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill allowing people to carry concealed weapons in the state without a permit.

The bill passed in a cloture vote 33-14, with two senators not voting.

Gov. Jim Pillen is expected to sign LB77 into law on Tuesday, with the bill going into effect on Sept. 10, based on a conversation with the Legislature clerk’s staff.

I am proud to support LB 77 and Nebraskans' constitutional rights. Thank you to the Nebraska Legislature for sending this bill to my desk.

Posted by Governor Jim Pillen on Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The vote makes Nebraska the 26th state to pass a law allowing anyone who can legally buy a handgun to conceal it in their clothes — and cars — without a government permit or safety class.

State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon has tried to pass the bill for years, calling it a Second Amendment issue. The bill’s sponsor told lawmakers he’s tired after debating this bill for the seventh year. But if it failed, he was prepared to bring it back next year.

“What we try to do in this body is follow the will of the people and give them their rights that they have in the Constitution,” Brewer said. “And sometimes we go out of our way to twist those rights to keep it from happening — and I think this is a case like that.”

Thirty-two Republicans were in support; they were joined in Wednesday’s vote by State Sen. Mike McDonnell, a Democrat from Omaha.

“Why are we supporting a conceal carry bill that does none of the above: no permit, no training, and no background check,” said State Sen. Jane Raybould of Lincoln. “How is this bill keeping our children and families and law enforcement safe? The current conceal carry law that we have on our books today — no one’s challenged it.”


Both the Omaha and Lincoln police departments have both spoken out against the bill.

“I opposed the bill as I believe it’s a population certainty we will see occasions where it will negatively impact Omaha,” Police Chief Todd Schmaderer told 6 News on Wednesday. “However, I respect the vote and we will move forward.”

Lincoln’s police chief said she’s disappointed because the main factor in these decisions should be public safety.

After the vote, a number of people shouted their disgust from the balcony of the Legislative chamber; it caught the attention of Legislature staff and the lieutenant governor.

One woman yelled “shame shame” at lawmakers. Senators later identified her as Melody Vaccaro with Nebraskans Against Gun Violence. She’s often talked about her view that gun violence is a public health crisis, and this bill — this law — won’t help.

Afterward, it appeared she was banned and barred from the state Capitol by the Nebraska State Patrol.

A permitless-carry bill has passed through the Nebraska Legislature and now heads to Gov. Pillen's desk.


Let’s take a deeper dive into the implications of LB77.

Background checks will still happen after Sept. 10 when someone goes to the county sheriff for a purchase permit for a handgun.

What won’t happen now is that second layer of deeper background checks done by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office because Omaha has a number of stricter ordinances on the books.

Those will go away once this becomes law.

Pending concealed weapons cases: There’s also the question about individuals who have cases pending in court for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit in Omaha. If the case is still pending by the time this goes into law, City Attorney Matt Kuhse tells 6 News that, in his opinion, those cases — between 50 and 100 cases in total — would be dropped.

Building bans: What about businesses and government buildings that already ban firearms? Those aren’t expected to change.

Prosecutors said the owner of that property gets to decide and can post the signs to forbid concealed guns. That means the city — as a property owner — can ban concealed weapons from being in places like city hall, parks, and community centers.

Not just guns: While we talk about concealing handguns without a permit or the eight-hour safety class, the language of the bill is “weapon” — meaning not just handguns will be allowed to be concealed, but knives as well.

City restrictions removed: A 6 news investigation found that dozens of people were not able to get a concealed carry permit in Douglas County because Omaha ordinances were more strict — especially in drug cases.

Those extra restrictions will go away with the law, and those individuals will then be allowed to conceal a weapon.