Vote on statewide gun regulation expected Wed.

Published January 26, 2016

Senators continued debate Jan. 26 on the uniform application of firearms regulation throughout the state.

Introduced by Crete Sen. Laura Ebke, LB289 would repeal individual city and village ordinances governing the registration, possession, transportation, transfer and storage of firearms and ammunition. Cities and villages would retain the authority to enforce prohibitions on firearm discharge.

If passed, the bill would preempt ordinances in Omaha and Lincoln that were intended to protect public safety.

Ebke said she appreciates concerns about potential gun violence, but that citizens’ rights should not be jeopardized due to inconsistent community regulations across the state.

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, who filed a motion to recommit the bill to the Judiciary Committee, said law-abiding gun owners should have no problem with local gun ordinances.

“If the gun owner is not doing anything in violation of the law, the issue will never surface,” he said. “[Supporters of LB289] expect their law-abiding gun owners to put themselves in a position where a law enforcement officer believes they have used their gun unlawfully.”

Omaha Sen. Heath Mello supported the motion to recommit. He said Omaha law enforcement has told him that LB289 would not make Omaha safer.

“If we pass [this bill] as it’s drafted, you’d be able to see in Omaha someone carrying a semi-automatic rifle walking down the street, in the highest crime area of the state,” Mello said. “There would be nothing [police] could do about it because we got rid of Omaha’s gun ordinance. [LB289] makes some very serious changes to what cities have done for years to curb gun violence.”

Sen. David Schnoor of Scribner opposed the motion, saying that local ordinances currently in place have not been effective.

“I’m willing to listen to the folks from Omaha and Lincoln, but my question is this: have these restrictions on our rights to keep and bear arms reduced crime?”

The motion to recommit the bill to the Judiciary Committee failed on a 10-31 vote. Chambers filed a motion to reconsider that vote, which was pending when the Legislature adjourned for the day.

Senators continue to work on a potential compromise. A vote on the bill is expected Wednesday morning.

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