Gun rights advocates flex their muscles, get ahead of the constitutional bill

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — Gun rights advocates flexed their legislative muscles Friday when a “no-permit” concealed carry bill, which hasn’t passed in previous years, received first-round approval.

Bill 77, which would allow people to carry a concealed weapon without a state permit or the passage of a gun safety class, passed a filibuster and was voted 36-12.

The bill overcame opposition from leaders in the state’s two largest cities, Omaha and Lincoln, and illustrated this year’s Conservative passage in the 49-seat Unicameral.

It’s unclear whether or not Friday’s vote will provide the impetus for passing a wide range of Conservative proposals this year, ranging from more restrictions on abortions, banning minors from drag shows and a move to block investments on the basis of environmental considerations.

The Nebraska legislature moved to the right this year as a group of moderate leaders exited due to term limits. A series of “culture war”-style bills have been introduced, addressing trans rights, classroom education about race, and a new optimism for long-defeated ideas, such as providing public funds for private schools and the so-called “constitutional carry” gun bill.

LB 77’s primary sponsor, State Senator Tom Brewer of Gordon, a decorated veteran, competitive shooter, and longtime gun rights advocate, said gun rights are probably an issue unlike any other..

But, he added, a new wave of conservative senators this year has certainly helped the prospects of the measure, which has repeatedly failed in recent years.

During the three-day debate, Brewer argued that law-abiding Nebrascans shouldn’t pay — $100 for a state concealed carry permit and $100-$200 for training — to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. .

And, he pointed out, it’s already legal to carry a firearm openly in Nebraska, except in businesses and other places where it’s prohibited. At least one attorney called LB 77 a “slight” change in state law.

“Please stop, take a deep breath and recognize that you can carry openly,” Brewer said. “You put on a coat and become a criminal, or you drive through a different city.”

“We just want to clean up the laws so you can protect yourself, your family and your business,” the senator said.

But opponents insisted that LB 77 would “normalize” the proliferation of firearms and gun violence.

Lincoln Senator Jane Raybould said the bill would make guns more accessible for people who want to harm others or harm themselves.

“States with the most guns … report the most suicides,” Raybould said, and states with stricter gun laws report less gun violence.

Nebraska has the 10th lowest rate of gun deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control, behind states like California, New York and New Jersey. The states with the highest rates of gun deaths include Mississippi, Louisiana, and Missouri.

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, who voted against advancing LB 77, said given the “plague” of mass shootings in recent months, it was not the time to expand gun rights.

Senator George Dungan of Lincoln, who also voted no, said people are enraged after every new mass shooting in the country and wonder why policies don’t change.

“There’s a generation of people who are asking us to do something,” Dungan said.

Brewer and other advocates, however, argued that LB 77 had nothing to do with the proliferation of firearms and gun violence in the United States.

They said Nebraskans who want to buy a gun will still need to get a state permit and undergo a criminal background check.

If LB 77 cancels two more rounds of debate and becomes law, Nebraska will become the 26th state in the nation to allow so-called “constitutional carry.”

“We’re not the first,” Brewer said, adding that in states that have passed similar laws, “life goes on.”

Nebraska Examiner is part of the States Newsroom, a network of grant-supported news outlets and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact editor Cate Folsom with questions: [email protected]. Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook AND Chirping.

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