The Nebraska Legislature passed LB 77, a constitutional carry bill introduced by Senator Tom Brewer. This legislation allows law-abiding adults to carry concealed firearms without a permit. The bill is headed to Governor Jim Pillen’s desk, who is expected to sign it into law, making Nebraska the 27th state to enact such legislation.
LB 77 maintains the criteria for eligibility to obtain a carry permit and does not affect previously issued permits. The bill strengthens preemption, where the state legislature has the sole authority to regulate firearms, preventing Nebraska counties and municipalities from passing a patchwork of local laws throughout the state.
In Nebraska’s largest city, Omaha, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert expressed their opposition to the bill, citing concerns about public safety and the loss of local control. Schmaderer said, “The ordinance helps us address gun violence crimes as well as screening those who should not possess a firearm,” mentioning those who are mentally ill or have criminal backgrounds. Stothert added that the proposal would remove local control.
We have outlined three potential pros and three potential cons of LB 77, followed by a summary of Blair opinions as gathered from our recent survey.
- Enhanced Personal Safety: LB 77 states that “the Legislature finds and declares that it is necessary to provide statewide uniform standards for issuing permits to carry concealed handguns for self-defense.” By allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms without a permit, the bill aims to empower individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones.
- Simplification of Gun Laws: LB 77 strengthens preemption, ensuring that the state legislature retains the sole authority to regulate firearms. This prevents counties and municipalities from implementing a confusing patchwork of local laws, making it easier for gun owners to comply with regulations.
- Upholding Second Amendment Rights: The bill emphasizes the importance of the right to bear arms as stated in the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, allowing citizens to exercise their right to self-defense without burdensome government regulations.
- Potential Impact on Public Safety: Some critics, including Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, argue that removing the requirement for a permit could lead to an increase in firearm-related incidents. They express concern that individuals without proper training may be more likely to mishandle firearms, leading to accidents or misuse.
- Loss of Local Control: LB 77 takes away the power of cities, counties, and villages to regulate guns, including requiring gun registration. Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert argues that this removal of local control may lead to less-effective firearm regulation in areas with specific needs or concerns.
- Concerns about the removal of local control over firearms regulations: As some believe that larger cities, like Omaha, may require different regulations than more rural areas of the state.
To gauge local opinions on LB 77 and gun control in general, we conducted a survey.
The results reveal a mixture of perspectives on the impact of the bill and the necessity for gun control. A majority of respondents (73.68%) somewhat or strongly agreed with the bill, while (26.32%) somewhat or strongly opposed it. Most respondents (57.89%) believed LB 77 would have a positive impact on public safety, while (23.68%) felt it would have a negative impact. A majority of respondents (60.52%) favored state control over firearm regulations, while only (32.43%) preferred local control. When asked about the importance of stricter gun control measures, (65.78%) of respondents prioritized protecting gun owners’ rights, (15.79%) believed stricter gun control was necessary, and another (15.79%) felt both were equally important. Lastly, regarding the impact of LB 77 on personal safety, (55.26%) of respondents felt safer with the bill’s passage, (21.05%) felt less safe, and another (21.05%) believed there would be no change in safety.
These results suggest Blair residents are divided on the impact of LB 77. A large majority support the bill and its implications for personal safety and gun rights. Yet, concerns about public safety, local control, and the adequacy of background checks remain significant for a portion of the respondents. There does not seem to be a middle position for those who responded to our survey.
As Nebraska moves forward with the implementation of LB 77, it will be essential for lawmakers, law enforcement, and communities to monitor the bill’s impact on public safety and firearm regulations. Open dialogue and continued analysis of the pros and cons of such legislation will help inform future policy decisions and ensure that Nebraska strikes the right balance between protecting individual rights and promoting public safety.
By Don Harrold for BlairToday. Email email@example.com for corrections, additions, or questions.