Sunday, January 08, 2006

CCW in Nebraska?

Nebraska legislatures are still hopeful that they will be able to enact legislation enabling Concealed Carry of Handguns in the 2006 session.

In an Associated Press pre-session survey, 26 of 49 senators said they would favor allowing Nebraskans to carry concealed weapons, while five said they were leaning that way. Eight were opposed to the idea and two were leaning that way. Four were undecided and three did not answer the question. One senator did not participate in the survey
State senators have been trying for TEN YEARS to get this legislation passed, and in the 2005 session they were making good progress on the latest version of the concealed-weapons measure (LB454) but ran out of time.

It was passed out of committee and sent to the floor for debate, but with the legislative session waning, she (Senator Jeanne Combs, the bill's sponsor) made a deal with Speaker Kermit Brashear of Omaha to pull the measure from the agenda.

In return, Brashear committed to scheduling the concealed weapons measure “for full and fair debate” at the beginning of the looming session, which starts Wednesday.
(This article was written on December 30, 2005; that session beginning date, then, would have been January 4, 2006.)

Governor Dave Heineman" supports the concept of legalizing the carrying of concealed weapons but has not taken a position on Combs’ bill."

But there are some potential problems with the bill, and even those Nebraskans who desperately WANT to see CCS enacted have mixed feelings about THIS bill.

Gunscribe of Nebraska, in his From The Heartland blog, lists some of these potential friction points in an article dated February 28, 2005.

  • PRE-EMPTION: there's nothing preventing local government from passing draconian ordnances which prohibit Concealed Carry in their town or county.
  • TRAINING REQUIREMENTS are not specified. The Nebaska State Patrol is responsible for establishing the requirements, and that department may be able to change requirements unilaterally even after they have been established.
  • TIME LIMIT FOR ISSUANCE has also not been addressed, as it often is in other states. For example, in Oregon a county sheriff has a limited period (I believe it is 30 days) to perform a background check, and if at the end of that period no cause to prevent issuance has been established the sheriff SHALL ISSUE a permit.
  • RECIPROCITY/RECOGNITION: no reciprocity with other states has yet been addressed.
These are all important points, and I agree that they should all be addressed before the measure reaches its final form. But are they so 'egrigious' (in the words of Gunscribe) that they should generate active opposition from the gun-owners of Nebraska?

Several (February 09, 2005), Gunscribe had called it a "Broke Bill". This doesn't look good for passage of ANY CCW bill in Nebraska.

However, on April 23, 2005, Gunscribe wrote another article where he asked whether LB454 is "a good law". In answer to the question whether "any bill (permitting CCW) is better than no bill at all", he reiterates his concern, and his outrage that his home state should treat its citizens "like first graders while the rest of the country is already in high school".

Then he finishes the article thus:

Having said all that;

The problem is that there is just not enough interest in CCW by the citizens of Nebraska to pass a good law. That means that a law like this has to be the starting point. Over a period of time, a large part of the population of Nebraska will aquire a license/permit and they will become more interested in the subject.

This interest will make the citizens aware of the differencess (sic) between Nebraska and the other states. Nebraskans, at that point will wake up to the fact that they are under a thumb of oppression not felt in other states. Then and only then will this realization morph into a grassroots effort that it will take to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear that is LB454.

It was with this realization that I, and several other very good people sat before the judiciary committe and testified on behalf of this bill.

Good law? NO, but it is probably the only way to get the ball rolling in a positive direction.
(Emphasis added)

Since Gunscribe has not only decided NOT to oppose passage, and in fact has actively testified for its passage, the bill may have a good chance of being enacted this year, even admitting that it is flawed.

In May, he wrote extensively about state-wide opposition to the bill (primary coming from state legislators and the Lincoln Journal Star) , noted that 33 votes are needed to bring cloture and were not yet guaranteed, and that the bill had already, AT THIS EARLY DATE, been tabled for the 2006 legislature. (There were only 14 days left in the session as of the May 12 date of this article.)

I don't know about you, but I'm already confused. I can't keep track of the ball, and I don't know the players. So I decided that, rather than to obfuscate the issue further by trying to follow the action, I would ask the local expert.

I've contacted Gunscribe through his website and asked him to comment on the bill either here or by email to me directly. I hope he will be able to update the situation, and comment on the possibility of the measure being enacted into law, either with or without amendment, in the 2006 session.

When I hear from him, I'll be sure to let you know.

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