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The gun debate after the Omaha Target shooting follows familiar lines

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska) — While only the gunman was killed in a target shooting in West Omaha on Tuesday, some say the whole thing could have been prevented.

Supporters of laws like LB 77, the Concealed Carry Without a Permit Act, say the shooting demonstrates the need for more people to carry guns.

Opponents say more guns will only lead to more shootings and that police can already handle the threat.

They say it’s not illegal for people to be armed and enter a public place with a gun, so shootings like Tuesday’s will become even more common if the amount of training and background checks are reduced.

Brittany Cooper, state coordinator for Nebraskans for Peace, said most people don’t support this legislation or it would have been passed sooner.

“Every year, thousands of permits are not issued due to background checks, so it’s very important that we continue to do this and that those processes are not bypassed,” he said.

In 2014, Target asked people not to bring guns into stores, even if allowed by local laws.

Gun rights advocates have said that when these shootings occur, response time matters.

It took only six minutes for the police to arrive at Target.

But Patricia Harrold, president of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association, said law-abiding citizens with guns could have stopped the shooter even faster.

“It could have been any of us who chose the self-defense lifestyle, to have a tool at hand,” he said. “Whether it’s a law enforcement officer or a citizen, you have to have someone with a firearm to stop someone with a firearm.”

Opponents disagree and say it is very rare for a civilian to do anything against a shooter.

Melody Vaccaro, executive director of Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, said police recognized the danger Tuesday and were able to deal with the situation without help from citizens.

“They saw someone walking around with an assault weapon and killed them. That’s how dangerous they found that person,” he said. “So the idea that we were going to let more people into the public square with more guns, fewer background checks, and less training is completely and totally out of the ordinary.”

Gun rights advocates like Harrold say the real problem is mental health and that there needs to be more support systems to prevent shootings.

“We have a mental health board and a mental health process that is broken,” Harrold said. “It’s underfunded, it’s not efficient, it’s not equipped. We have really, really, really good people trying to work within the system, but if the average citizen knew how bad that system is, we wouldn’t be shocked or surprised that what happened at Target happened.

Both sides said there are several important bills to keep an eye on as the legislature moves forward, including LB 314 and LB 5.

Introduced by Senator John Fredrickson of Omaha, LB 314 would provide suicide education and prevention training to gun owners.

LB 5, introduced by Senator Carol Blood of Bellevue, would provide workers’ compensation for those who have experienced violence such as a workplace shooting.

The gun debate in Nebraska should continue as all of these bills move forward.

Tags: Brittany Cooper, Concealed Carry Permit, Gun Rights, LB77, melody vaccaro, Mental Health, Nebraska Firearms Owner Association, Nebraska Shooting, Nebraskans against Gun Violence, Nebraskans for Peace, Patricia Harrold, Concealed Carry Permit, Sen. Carol Blood, Sen John Fredrickson, target practice

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