Friday, March 31, 2006

More about Nebraska Shall Issue Law

Are you as amazed as I am that both Kansas and Nebraska passed Right To Carry laws within one week of each other? It's even more incredible considering the stiff resistance that citizens of both states faced, and the many years of battle needed to impose their will on reluctant politicians.

In a way, it makes it more difficult for writers to give as much attention to the process and results of each state's success, when it's such a target-rich environment this week. We're almost forced to focus on one or the other story, if only because of the dearth of available pajama time for bloggers. I've decided to talk about Nebraska, which is the newest champion of the RKBA movement. Besides, I've already written about it yesterday.

I've just spent an hour searching the internet for news about the Nebraska bill LB 454, and you probably aren't surprised to hear that the Main Stream Media -- even the Main Stream Internet News -- has ignored the topic in favor of pediphile teachers and political demonstrations.

But Blogistan has the news, and the answers that a lot of Second Amendment Afficianados are looking for.

Let's look at the actual bill, Nebraska LB 454.
(Legislative Bill 454, available as a 15-page PDF file)

This was initially sponsored by State Senator Jeanne Combs, and the copy of the bill states that the First Reading was January 13, 2005. The version that I'm looking at was posted by the State of Nebraska in May of 2005, and I'm assuming that this is the version which was passed. (If I later find I'm wrong, I'll post corrections as necessary and note it on at UPDATE at the bottom of the page.)

The first question everybody asks is: "Is this a Shall Issue law?" The answer is a resounding YES!

The Concealed Handgun Permit Act (CHPA) is specific to handguns, and does not address carrying concealed weapons in general. It costs $100, is issued by county sheriffs (who get half of the fee, the other half goes to the state for their processing fees and the remainder, if any, goes to the General Fund) and is valid for a period of five years. Renewal fee is $50.

The applicant must complete an application form, provide two sets of fingerprints, be an American citizen and adult resident of Nebraska, be a non-felon, and present an original Certificate of Training.

The Sheriff has five days to issue the permit if all requirements are fulfilled, including a Criminal History record check from the FBI through the Nebraska State Patrol. This is not necessary during renewal of the permit. (Denial of permit can be appealed through the District Court of that county.)

The Nebraska State Patrol is also responsible for defining the minimum standards of training, based on guidelines established in the CHPA.

Incidentely, as cited in my earlier article:
The Nebraska State Patrol did not take a stance on the bill. The Police Officers Association of Nebraska opposes the measure.

There are the usual precautions which we find in many such laws: No felons, etc. A couple of interesting clauses include "no history of violence" and the applicant must "not habitually be in an intoxicated or drugged condition".

There is no definition of the terminology, so one wonders what constitutes a "history of violence". Is this a subjective evaluation by the issuing Sheriff?

A permit holder must have in his possession both the permit and a drivers license (or some other ID, such as a military ID card) when carrying a handgun.

Moving into the vernacular:

Cops can take your gun away while they're talking to you. If you're carrying, you have to tell them. They have to give your gun back, except (for example) if they send you to the hospital and THEN they have to give you a receipt. Whether you get it back later depends on the circumstances.

There are places where a permit holder is not allowed to carry: jails and police stations, court buildings, polling places, bars, schools (school grounds, school busses, school activiies, etc.), athletic events, places of worship, emergency rooms, banks, political rallys, or " ...places or premises which have prohibited permit holders from carrying ... ". This last requires that the owner "has posted conspicuous notice" that handguns are not permitted, or has asked the permit holder to remove the handgun from the premises.

If you're a Domino's Driver, your boss can forbid you to carry in the deliver van.

You can't carry in a bar, while you're drinking (where-ever), or until you've completely sobered up again.

If you shoot somebody, you have to fill out a form or they'll throw you in the slammer and take your permit away from you.

While researching this article, I found an excellent summary from a Nebraska Gun Club under the title "Why Does Nebraska Need A Right-To-Carry." You can read it here, though you'll have to scroll down a page.

The Free Republic site posted an excellent article from the Lincoln Journal Star (January 14, 2006: Nate Jenkins) which summarized some of the opposition.

Big Cities might impose more stringent restrictions:

“If we want to do concealed weapons … let’s make sure the legislation communicates very clearly how we want the rest of the state to address concealed weapons,” said Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk.

Confusion currently exists about whether the bill would force cities to abide by the proposed law, because a state statute now allows cities to prohibit people from carrying concealed weapons. Also, some city officials say they want to be able to set their own restrictions on concealed guns.

Sen. DiAnna Schimek argued that the confusion created “a huge concern” and that more public hearings should be held so city officials could provide input.

Why would anyone need to carry "concealed" in Nebraska?

The Nebraska State Patrol would be charged with devising training standards for safety courses that Combs said could last between one and three days, per session. Some state law enforcement agencies, including the State Patrol, have taken a neutral stance on the bill.

But at least one, the Police Officers Association of Nebraska, has opposed conceal-carry bills in the past.

“A person right now can legally carry a weapon,” as long as it is openly displayed, such as in a car seat or holster attached to a belt, said Lt. Mike Swain of the North Platte Police Department, president of the group.

“What are the benefits of having a gun nobody can see?”

Somebody openly displaying a gun is less likely to be attacked than one who conceals a weapon, he argued. Under current state law, weapons are considered illegally concealed if they are not where officers can view them but are accessible to their owners, according to Capt. Rhonda Lahm of the Nebraska State Patrol.

Anyone who truly believes that "open carry" is a safe, sane way to carry a defensive weapon should talk to Jason, the author of the blospot Fish Or Man. This is a blogger who was arrested in 2004 for carrying a loaded weapon openly in his car. When he was stopped for a traffic offense in his home state of Washington, the traffic cop became nervous when he spotted the loaded weapon. A series of escalating confrontations resulted in arrest, confiscation and trial. Over a year later, many tears from his poor wife and thousands of dollars poorer (I still don't know if he got his pistol back), Jason finally won MOST of his appeals.

It's not clear to me even yet if all the charges against Jason have been resolved, but one thing IS clear: open carry may help you defend yourself against predatory criminals, but it won't protect you against predatory cops.

If you open carry and have an encounter with the police, chances are good that they will automatically assume that you are 'up to no good' and the situation will immediately turn confrontational. If you insist upon your right to open-carry, expect escalation and expect that you will be arrested adn charged with (if nothing better comes to mind) "resisting arrest".

By the way, the link (above) is to the origina blogpost written on her husband's blogsite by Jason's wife, the day after her husband was arrested. The title is "I Am Finished". It will break your heart to read it. It is a sad, tearful story.

Washington State will issue you a "right to carry" permit. Jason just didn't see any reason why he should give money to the State, an have his name entered on a list of "people who have guns", when the Second Amendment (and Washington State Law) allowed him to carry "openly".

He now understands why. It's not an easy story to read; or to follow, if you have the time to track through the many episodes of arrest, imprisonment, bail, hearings, lawyers fees, trials and decisions on the various charges brought against him. But it certainly provides and excellent response to the question “What are the benefits of having a gun nobody can see?”

Answer: it provides protection against both law-breakers and law-enforcement.

Some time before LB 454 was passed, The Omaha City Weekly published an opinion article which contained all of the predictable cavaets. If you're interested, you should go read the whole thing. It's a regurgistation of all the fearful justification to deny honest citizens their right to defend themselves.

There are a few notable sound bites:
An armed society is a polite society, after all. Or so we’re told

Not everyone agrees with Combs’ view of concealed handguns. Nebraska City Police Chief Bill Muldoon raised concerns that family members are more likely than intruders to be harmed by guns in the home. He also was concerned that the additional gun-safety training LB 454 would require the State Patrol to perform for permit applicants would overburden an already-taxed State Patrol system.

Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha also opposes LB 454. In a style all his own, Chambers has proposed an amendment to LB 454 that would punish persons who violate the provisions of their concealed-carry license by having them taken into custody where their “trigger finger shall be shot off by Nebraska State Senator Jeanne M. Combs using a pistol of her choice ... without the benefit of any type of anesthesia other than flavored malt liquor.”

Seriously, that’s the amendment on the floor of the Unicameral. Further debate would be required on the amount of malt liquor that could be used, or the flavors that would be permissible under Chambers’ proposal.
Muldoon is a politicop parroting the old "43% more likely" argument which has long been discredited.

Chambers is a politician and an idiot (but then, I repeat myself).

And ...
Any discussion about gun control legislation really should start with the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “[a] well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Keep in mind, at the time the Second Amendment was enacted, the United States had a very small standing army. The defense of the nation was left to militias, self-organized groups of men who assembled when the need arose. But clear within the language of the Second Amendment is the concept of a “well regulated militia,” meaning that the ability to wield a firearm had to be subject to the rules of the government.

The author of that article brings up the "history of violence" and "habitually ... drunken" issues, which reflects well on his careful reading of the bill. He recognizes that these are controversial points.

Unfortunately, he finishes with:
Really, it comes down to this question. Who are you more afraid of, the criminal who uses a gun to take your money, or the guy in the car next to you who has been pushed to the limit and uses you to take out his frustration against the world? Which of those two threats do you think is more likely to touch your life?

Guns do many things, and that includes escalating a confrontation into a life and death situation. It is an inescapable fact that in Europe, private gun ownership is a tiny fraction of what it is in the United States, and yet the violent crime rate in Europe (as well as the amount of accidental gun deaths) is far less than in the United States.

An armed society may be a polite society, but that is because it is a frightened society. I think there’s enough fear in this world. I believe that the marginal benefit of being able to outdraw a criminal in a shootout is overshadowed by the risk of each day-to-day confrontation escalating into a shooting. Permitting private citizens to carry concealed handguns is either a failure of our society to provide basic security or a pandering to the baser Darwinian survival instincts of people. For all our sakes, let’s pray LB 454 is the latter.
Fortunately, there are less fearful heads than his in Nebraska. Not everyone has so little confidence in the essential good sense of "people". Again, it's to his credit that he recognizes "the failure of our society to provide basic security", but he doesn't envision any better solution to the problem of crime and violence but that a "frightened society" should stand around like cattle waiting for the slaughterhouse-man.

If he thinks that the police are going to prevent violence, he would be better off hoping that the law is changes so that the Domino's Pizza Driver can carry 'on the job'. They have a much better response time.

Illinois and Wisconsin still don't have concealed carry laws.

The Wisconsin "Legislatie Reference Bureau" posted an article about attempts to enter a concealed carry in Wisconson.

In 2003, SB 214 was passed by the State Legislature and subsequently vetoed by Governor Jim Doyle in early November, 2003. I don't know the current status of this movement, but the PDF article notes that "Missouri's legislature overrode his (Governor Bob Holden) veto in September 2003 making making Missouri the 45th state to legalize the carrying of a concealed weapon."

Wisconsin is on track, and not really far behind schedule. It may even be inevitable that Wisconsin will pass RKBA legislation in the near future.

There's still hope for Illinois.

I hope to bring you good news of these two final 'hold-out" states in the near future.

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