Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nebraska Joins RKBA America!

State Sens. Jeanne Combs (right) and DiAnna Schimek, on opposite sides of the issue, hugged after Combs' concealed carry passed. (Robert Becker)After ten years of effort, Nebraska citizens finally impose their will over that of recalcitrant politicians and "Municipality Liberals" ... a "Right to Carry" bill has been passed, and it will soon be legal to carry a concealed weapon in the Great State of Nebraska!

Coming only a week after Kansas passed a similar law which recognizes the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Nebraska law is perhaps not all that Nebraskans would want. But it opens the door to individual freedoms, and that's worth a decade of struggle.

Here's the full text of the Lincoln, Nebraska "Journal Star" article:

Concealed-carry adopted

Next year, roughly 20,000 Nebraskans may trade their pepper spray and knives for Rugers and live ammo. Ending a 10-year effort, the Legislature on Thursday passed a law giving law-abiding Nebraskans the right to carry concealed handguns.

“It’s been a long fight,” said Sen. Jeanne Combs of Milligan.

Combs, a shoot-from-the-hip speaker and member of the National Rifle Association who led the fight for the bill, stared at the big board on the floor of the Legislature as votes to break a filibuster piled up.

When the tally hit 33, it was clear Nebraska would soon change its status as one of just a few states that prohibit concealed guns.

“I think it gives the people who’ve been victims of crime at least an alternative,” she said later.

The bill goes to Gov. Dave Heineman, who has said he would sign it.

Senators who have opposed the legislation fought it until the final vote, forcing the filibuster-breaker.

“There is no justification for it which would be considered rational,” said Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. “Nebraska is not engulfed in a crime wave.”

The Nebraska State Patrol did not take a stance on the bill. The Police Officers Association of Nebraska opposes the measure.

Sen. Joel Johnson of Kearney questioned why the “safest people in the safest place on Earth” — Nebraska — need to carry concealed guns.

Supporters were mostly quiet, content to let opponents take their last shots at the bill and allow Combs to answer their questions.

She gave varying answers to a question that especially interested senators and is expected to interest city leaders as the law’s January start date approaches: Will it prevent cities from passing their own ordinances banning concealed handguns?

“As I understand the bill, it is preemptive” and would prohibit cities from overriding state law, Combs said, answering a question from Chambers.

Earlier this month, Combs suggested it may not prevent cities from banning concealed guns.

After the vote Thursday, Combs said she was “not an attorney” and wasn’t sure what the effect of the law will be in cities across the state.

“It remains to be seen,” she said. “My intent was not to have a checkerboard of laws.”

Sen. DiAnna Schimek of Lincoln pointed out an apparent discrepancy between what Combs told Chambers and what the bill seems to spell out.

“I think it says right here in your own bill that indeed they have that authority” to pass their own anti-conceal-carry laws and override state law, Schimek said.

None of the 38 states with similar legislation allow cities to opt out of state law, said Keith Wood, an NRA lobbyist who has pushed for this bill and is familiar with conceal-carry bills.

But Nebraska’s bill is different, he has said, because he believes it does allow cities to ban concealed weapons.

Lincoln Mayor Coleen Seng and Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey wrote letters to the Legislature last month expressing opposition to the bill.

Lincoln officials are considering their next move, said Seng aide Rick Hoppe.

“The mayor wants to take time to review the city’s options before making a decision,” he said.

Without widespread city bans, the State Patrol has estimated 19,500 Nebraskans would apply for permits next year, when the law goes into effect. And about 5,000 would apply annually after that.

Applicants will have to pass background checks and meet other criteria to obtain the $100 permits, which will have to be renewed every five years.

Earlier news reports suggests that "Preemption" -- legally restricting the ability of individual municipalities to pass more restrictive laws than the rights granted by the state -- may have been a significant stumbling block to passage of this law. The final text of the bill is not yet available on the internet, so this question remains unanswered. However, there are passages in the Nebraska Constitution which might seem to support preemption.

For example, this passage from Gunscribe (and cited in an earlier article):

All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes, and such rights shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof. To secure these rights, and the protection of property, governments are instituted among people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Neb. Const. art. I, sec. 1 (1875);
Amended 1988, Initiative Measure No. 403

The political opposition to passage of this bill was evident even after passage of the bill, as the Journal Star reporting demonstrates:
“There is no justification for it which would be considered rational,” said Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. “Nebraska is not engulfed in a crime wave.”

The Nebraska State Patrol did not take a stance on the bill. The Police Officers Association of Nebraska opposes the measure.

Sen. Joel Johnson of Kearney questioned why the “safest people in the safest place on Earth” — Nebraska — need to carry concealed guns.

Still, this is a significant advance in the 2nd Amendment Movement, and one which reduces the right-to-carry ratio from 47-to-3 to 48-to-2.

Only Illinois and Wisconsin have yet to pass such self-defense legislation.

As of this writing, the passage of this bill has not yet been mentioned by the Main Stream Media.

However, Nebraska citizens are virtually dancing in the streets over this acknowledgement of their civil rights.

The CCW Nebraska Forum members are jubilant, yet restrained as they attempt to sort out the implications of the bill as enacted into law.

As Forum Member JoeMerchant24 states:

We did it!

Aye 33

Nay 12

NV 3

We win! We win! Thank God almighty we win at last!

Welcome to a Blue State!

However, CMZNEB is more restrained, as he cautions:
Nobody is clear on the preemption. Not even the Legislators who just passed the bill.

With only Illinois and Wisconsin left......... I wish you guys the best of luck. Keep pushing your elected officials, keep it positive, and you will succeed.

And member jednp cautions:

Municipalities will have the right to ban it. I live in Omaha and have been told that they will keep their current ban in effect, and change their law any if needed to keep current. Some city council members are going to sponsor a bill to allow it in Omaha, but I was told it will take a strong 5 person vote because the mayor will veto it, and lots of organizations in the city are against it. Only hope Omaha has, or any other city which bans it is to get the law ammended in the next year or so to make it so municipalities cannot ban it.
Questions, yes. The problem with 'early returns' is that the nigling details remain to be resolved. It's perhaps unwise to accept a new law as the answer to all of your dreams. When you turn your back on a problem, remember where it's going to bite you.

But still, in the words of malkore:

today is a good day.

(H/T: John Hurd, of "The Unofficial IPSC List")

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