Now that LB 77 has become effective, Nebraska has statewide constitutional carry for law-abiding adults. In order to make Nebraska a constitutional carry state, I knew that my bill had to also include state preemption of local gun control schemes.
The preemption language in my bill was as clear as we could make it. Section 18-1703 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes now says that all regulation of firearms and other weapons is a state matter, not a local matter any longer. It says that this is true for counties, cities, and villages, including cities that have a home rule charter. Finally, it says that any ordinance, permit, or regulation to the contrary is null and void.
Some of the local politicians in Lincoln and Omaha city government did not like this idea. They fought me tooth and nail on constitutional carry for years. They do not approve of equality before the law. They only like their version of “Second Amendment rights,” where the citizen has to ask permission and jump through bureaucratic hoops to get his civil rights, and then only gets them if the right people in government approve.
The Legislature did not listen to these self-important local potentates. Instead, we listened to the Constitution and we listened to liberty-loving Nebraskans who wanted to make our state’s laws live up to our Nebraska principles.
Now that LB 77 is law, the mayors of Lincoln and Omaha are defying that law and defying the Nebraska and United States constitutions. As part of this municipal rebellion, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird have both issued executive orders to retaliate against gun owners for the passage of LB 77.
Both orders claim to prohibit firearms on all “city property.”
This term is defined so broadly that it includes parks, sidewalks, and public parking lots. If taken at face value, the mayors in both Lincoln and Omaha seem to believe that they even have the authority to ban a person from possessing firearms on city streets.
Lincoln goes even further than Omaha, and claims that it has the authority to prohibit public possession of all “dangerous weapons,” which they define to include not only firearms but also knives and BB guns. Whether they call it an ordinance, an executive order, or a law, any government ban on going armed in public places is repugnant to the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, let alone the substance of LB 77.
Furthermore, both cities have decided to keep illegal ordinances on the books. Omaha repealed 22 ordinances, an action that I applauded. However, Omaha claims that it continues to have the authority to regulate the sale and transfer of firearms and other weapons, including a city ordinance requiring daily reports to the city from Omaha gun stores. Lincoln has not yet removed any of its illegal ordinances, even though state law says they are unenforceable.
Both cities have said in the past that they think their home rule charters give them the legal right to pass local gun control. I believe that the law is clear.
Unfortunately, it appears from the actions of Lincoln and Omaha that courts will have to settle this dispute. I am optimistic that our judges will reach the right answer.
Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.
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