By A. Marie Hamilton, Sidney Sun-Telegraph
LINCOLN – Nebraska becomes the 27th state to pass a Constitutional Carry gun law which was presented to Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, R-Platte County, on April 19 and was signed into law by Pillen on Tuesday, April 25.
Nebraska lawmakers voted 33-14 to pass Legislative Bill 77 (LB77) last Wednesday on its final reading after being introduced nearly four months ago on January 5 by Nebraska Sen. Tom Brewer, R-Gordon.
The new law enables residents to carry concealed without a permit but does not usurp the federal requirements to purchase or own a firearm nor does it affect previously issued permits. Additionally LB77 does not change the criteria or eligibility to obtain a concealed carry permit.
“With Gov. Pillen’s signature, Nebraska becomes the 27th state in America that protects the right of Americans to carry a firearm outside of their home without first asking the government for additional permission and paying additional fees,” National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Nebraska State Director Travis Courture-Lovelady wrote in a press release. “State-by-state, NRA is working to eliminate overly burdensome carry requirements that have put restrictions on law-abiding Americans for far too long. Nebraska is the latest state to recognize law-abiding citizens are not the problem – criminals are.”
Pillen signed LB77 ‘Constitutional Carry’ into law during a 2 p.m. signing ceremony on Tuesday at the Governors’s Hearing Room inside the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln and was live streamed on Nebraska Public Media.
By Pillen’s side during the signing was Sen. Brewer along with other state senators and guests who worked to pass this law, which briefly hit a rocky patch earlier this month following the Nashville, Tennessee, Christian school shooting.
On March 28, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Public Affairs Director Don Aaron identified the shooter as a 28-year-old transgender woman who went by the name of Audrey Elizabeth Hale. According to Aaron in a number of press statements, Hale was born male and was male throughout his youth, however, sometime after he started college transitioned and began identifying as woman. Hale had recently graduated from Nashville’s Nossi College of Art and Design last year.
Aaron explained Hale was lethally shot by law enforcement officers 14 minutes after she shot and killed three students and three staff members at Covenant Christian School in Nashville. Hale fired 126 – 5.56 rifle rounds and 26 – 9 mm rounds during the killing spree. Hale had been a former student at the Covenant school and no motive has been publicly released at this time.
Shortly after the shooting, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, R-Franklin, announced a school safety bill which is being met with criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.
What is Constitutional carry?
Constitutional carry simply means Nebraska now allows eligible gun owners, who meet federal requirements to obtain and own firearms, the ability to carry concealed or open carry as they see fit without the need for additional permits or permissions, with the exception in federal buildings or other various gun free zones. Some of those gun free zones include: schools, city buildings, county buildings, law enforcement buildings, courts and the post office.
The Nebraska NRA branch wrote Constitutional Carry “protects Americans’ rights to carry a firearm for self-defense by eliminating the requirement that law-abiding gun owners obtain a permit to carry.”
Adding, “the law does not affect previously issued permits and does not eliminate the permitting system.”
Those who wish to obtain a permit to carry in states that recognize Nebraska permits still can. Additionally, the new law does not change who is permitted to obtain a firearm; felons and other disqualified persons can still be punished under federal, state and local statutes for unlawful possession of a firearm.
“LB77 also strengthens preemption, giving the state legislature sole authority to regulate firearms,” the Nebraska NRA explained. “This prevents Nebraska counties and municipalities from having a patchwork of confusing and conflicting local laws throughout the state.”
Essentially, the law becomes uniform throughout the state and must be changed at the state legislative level in the future.
“This is a movement that’s sweeping the nation and the NRA is proud to be the leader behind it,” Courture-Lovelady stated. “Anti-gun lawmakers must recognize that law-abiding people should be able to defend themselves wherever they are – after all, self-defense situations can happen anywhere and without warning.”
Adding, “Nebraskans will soon live in a state that further respects their freedom.”
Just last year, following the tragic Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where officers hesitated to subdue the suspect and resulted in the death of 22 and wounded 18, neighboring state Wyoming saw more districts opt-in to Wyoming’s 2017 law, which allows qualified teachers and school administrators to carry concealed. As of April 2023, five districts in Wyoming completed the statutory process which now allows qualified, trained school employees to carry concealed at schools, during school times; another roughly 15 districts had filed to begin the process with a number of other districts in Wyoming beginning to take the idea to their local school boards.
Sen. Brewer has unsuccessfully attempted to pass Nebraska’s Constitutional Carry law since 2017. Vocal opponent to Brewer’s Constitutional Carry law, Sen. Jane Raybould, D-Lincoln, told fellow lawmakers to not pass the bill and in a last ditch effort, reminded her fellow lawmakers the 24th anniversary of Columbine was the next day, April 20. At the time, the 13 deaths at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, was the deadliest school shooting on record.
Nebraska’s Constitutional Carry law goes into effect 90 days after the governor signs it, on, or about Monday, June 24. Until then, Nebraska residents seeking to conceal carry will have to either wait until the 90 day mark, or they will have to submit to a Nebraska State Patrol background check, get fingerprinted and take a gun safety course at their own expense.
Local law enforcement and gun-safety experts, such as the Nebraska NRA, still encourage gun owners to take gun-safety courses to learn how to safety, effectively and securely carry concealed.
For more information about LB77 visit, http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov.