Nebraska Senate Passes Concealed Carry
by Dave Workman
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman was poised to sign that state’s concealed carry legislation as this issue of Gun Week went to press, making the Cornhuskers State No. 40 with a “shall-issue” statute, and the 48th state with some form of legal concealed carry.
Only two holdout states remain, Wisconsin and Illinois, where anti-gun Democrats have blocked such bills.
Nebraska state Sen. Jeanne Combs told Gun Week that she was elated over passage of legislation that had been “in progress” for the past decade. Her bill was virtually identical to one submitted four years ago by former Sen. Gene Tyson. There was some question whether language in the final bill might allow cities such as Omaha to adopt ordinances banning concealed carry, or enforce existing ones, but Combs said she never intended for the bill to allow cities to adopt their own concealed carry laws.
“They are construing that the law is open for cities to pass their own ordinances,” Combs said. “The intent of the language is to be pre-emptive.”
But according to The Omaha World-Herald, existing state law does allow Omaha and Lincoln to ban concealed carry, and the new statute apparently does not prohibit adoption of their own carry ordinances. The newspaper said even smaller cities can enact such ordinances under state law. Combs said an attorney was looking into this.
Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey opposed the measure, as did Lincoln Mayor Coleen Seng, the newspaper reported.
Perennial anti-gun Sen. Ernie Chambers had once again opposed the measure, but the bill passed on a 33-12 vote, derailing any thoughts that a filibuster might stop it. Only 25 votes were needed to pass the bill.
Combs said she was gratified that several votes came from senators who had not committed publicly.
“This is a great step for Nebraska’s law-abiding gunowners,” said Joe Waldron, executive director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, “and a bad day for criminals and for the extremist anti-gunners who bitterly fought this legislation.”
Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rife Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, thanked Gov. Heineman and Sen. Combs “for their steadfast support.”
“Their involvement was instrumental in the passage of this pro-Second Amendment legislation for all law-abiding citizens in their great state.”
Under the new statute, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2007, qualified Nebraskans would pay $100 for their concealed pistol permit, which will be good for a period of five years. They would have to pass a background check and take a firearms training course designed, but not taught, by the Nebraska State Patrol. Convicted felons, who cannot own firearms legally anyway, would never qualify. Proponents say this law will put honest citizens on an equal footing with criminals who already carry guns despite legal prohibitions.
Combs said preliminary estimates expect 19,500 Nebraskans to obtain permits during the first year, and that afterwards, about 5,000 citizens will get licensed annually. The permits will be issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Opponents of the measure, said Combs, fell back on the same arguments used in battles against concealed carry in other states. There were predictions of “Wild West” gunfights in the streets and at minor traffic accidents, and greater threats to law enforcement. She noted that none of these predictions has come true in other states that have passed such laws.
Waldron concurred with that assessment, noting, “We’re confident that Nebraskans will soon demonstrate that they are as responsible as citizens in dozens of other states where concealed carry is already the law. They will prove that opponents of reasonable concealed carry measures deal in empty rhetoric.”
The law’s proponents contended that being able to carry firearms for personal protection is a right guaranteed by Article 1, Section 1 of the state constitution.
Return to Archive Index