The Judiciary Committee heard testimony March 8 on a bill that would aid law enforcement agencies in preventing illegal gun ownership.
Currently, a person applying for a concealed carry permit from the Nebraska State Patrol or a certificate to purchase, lease, rent or receive transfer of a handgun from a law enforcement agency must submit to a criminal background check.
LB520, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, would create a notification system to alert law enforcement officials whenever a person prohibited from owning a handgun applies for a handgun purchase or concealed carry permit.
Hansen said the bill would help law enforcement officials more effectively enforce handgun regulations and ensure community safety.
“This does not change who is prohibited from possessing handguns or change or add any penalties,” he said. “It simply [would] implement an effective system for alerting the law enforcement community.”
Any notification of application denial would be forwarded to the Nebraska Crime Commission, which then would determine which agencies should receive information of the denial, including the Office of the Attorney General, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nebraska, county attorneys and law enforcement agencies with relevant jurisdiction to the denied application.
The bill would require annual reports on the number and final disposition of denials.
Mo Neal, representing Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, testified in support of the bill. She said the system created under LB520 would assist the state in collecting important data.
“[This bill] would set us on a path toward accumulating data to conduct important research,” she said. “It’s a start to helping prevent more and more crimes.”
Opposing the bill was Dick Clark, representing the Nebraska Firearm Owners Association. He said some people may not know they are prohibited from owning or possessing a handgun. The proposed reporting system could attach a stigma to unwitting citizens.
“This is a person who is following the law and dutifully asking their local law enforcement official if they are legally allowed to own a firearm,” Clark said. “The fact that they apply for a certificate does not mean the person is attempting to own a firearm to violate the law.”
The committee took no immediate action on the bill.