Statewide gun regulation bill stalls

After six hours of debate, an attempt to force a vote on a bill that uniformly would apply firearms regulations throughout the state failed Jan. 27. The bill is unlikely to be scheduled for further debate this session.

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.

Several Omaha and Lincoln senators expressed concerns during the debate about the bill preempting local ordinances already in existence. Of particular concern was Omaha’s handgun registry ordinance, which Omaha Sen. Heath Mello said was intended to help law enforcement protect public safety.

Ebke said the bill would protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners to travel throughout the state without fear of having their guns confiscated.

A motion filed by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers to reconsider a previous vote that failed to recommit the bill to the Judiciary Committee was pending when debate began Jan. 27.

Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha said senators had been unable to reach a compromise that would have exempted Omaha and Lincoln’s ordinances.

“This is an interruption of local control in its present form,” Krist said.

Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln opposed the bill as drafted, saying it is vital to preserve the ability of local communities to draft ordinances addressing concerns specific to them.

“We value local control in Nebraska because we know that the people on local boards are closer to the people [and issues] they represent than we are,” he said.

Henderson Sen. Curt Friesen supported LB289, saying it is not an attack on local control.

“This is about making uniform laws across the state,” Friesen said. “Explain to me how any of these local ordinances have made any of us safer.”

Ebke offered a motion to invoke cloture, or cease debate and take an immediate vote on the bill. The motion failed 32-10. Thirty-three votes were needed.

A failed cloture motion prevents further debate on the bill for the day.

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