Douglas County group working to educate juveniles, parents on gun safety

A group of law enforcement and community advocates in Douglas County are hosting a series of community meetings to educate juveniles and their parents on gun sa
Published: Oct. 25, 2023 at 5:45 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A group of people involved in the Douglas County Juvenile Justice System are hoping education can curb gun violence in the community.

The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative is made up of law enforcement personnel, service providers, prosecutors, and parents.

The organization is holding a meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the realities of possessing a firearm.

Officials tell 6 News that an outbreak of juveniles firing off guns and stealing cars shined a light on the need for these discussions.

“We hope that with more robust conversation and education, we can help young people keep illegal firearms out of their hands and help educate their parents and the community about what legal firearm possession looks like,” Douglas County Sheriff Aaron Hanson said.

Hanson says they hope by going directly to parents, interested members of the community, and the juveniles themselves, that their message will be heard.

“We know that juvenile committing crimes with firearms is a hot topic,” Hanson said. “It’s important for our community to come to grips with.”

Sheriff Hanson says part of the discussion will focus on Nebraska’s new gun laws, passed via LB 77.

“It’s kind of like driving a car,” Hanson said. “You wouldn’t put somebody behind the wheel of a car without having any experience. I mean, this is something that could be lethal.

Jessica Ulrich with The Marksman in Waterloo tells 6 News that attendance at their gun safety classes hasn’t dropped off a bit, even after the state made it unnecessary to get a permit and carry a concealed weapon.

“It’s so encouraging because people are still getting out there and wanting to learn the basics, wanting to learn the laws and be well versed in what they can and can’t do, even inside the home,” Ulrich said.

Ulrich says gun owners should always make sure their guns are secure. There are all kinds of locks and gun safes on the market to keep weapons out of the hands of juveniles.

“When you are a gun owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that nobody prohibited gets a hold of those guns,” Ulrich said. “It’s a federal law that every gun manufacturer has to include some kind of locking device in each new gun. They do that for a reason.”

Sheriff Hanson is hoping going out to the community and having these conversations to provide information will keep everyone safe.

“We hope that having that discussion on the front end can reduce some violence on the back end,” Hanson said.

The Nebraska Gun Law Informational Meeting is set for Wednesday from 6-7:30 p.m. at Omaha South High School.

Another community meeting is scheduled for Friday at the same time at Nathan Hale Middle School.