Bill would allow transport of firearms on campus for sport shooters

College students competing in additional shooting sports could lawfully transport their firearms on campus under a bill discussed by lawmakers Jan. 9 and 10.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist37' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. John Lowe'>Sen. John Lowe</a>
Sen. John Lowe

Firearms currently are prohibited from the grounds and buildings on the state’s college and university campuses. School-sponsored rifle team members are exempt from this ban as long as their weapons are safely transported and stored.

LB321, introduced by Kearney Sen. John Lowe, would accommodate additional teams that compete in other shooting sports by removing “rifle” from the team description in state statute.

Lowe said colleges and universities throughout the state have shown increasing interest in offering more shooting sports teams, including trap shooting and skeet shooting.

“This would ensure that when a school decides to have a sports team that uses firearms other than a rifle, they’d be able to safely secure those weapons on campus,” he said.

Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher filed an amendment to change the bill’s wording to cover “college or university firearm teams.” He said the change would address the original intent of LB321 while clarifying that a member of a university football team could not carry a firearm on campus, for example.

The amendment was adopted 40-1.

Competitive shooting teams help young people develop fundamental skills, said Gordon Sen. Tom Brewer in support of the bill.

“We have young men and women who already have very strict rules for transporting their weapons and their ability to perform is based on if they can safely transport their weapons,” he said. “We need to give them a method of moving a shotgun, pistol or [other firearm].”

Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha filed several motions to extend debate on the bill, calling it unnecessary and saying it would lead to a greater proliferation of weapons on college and university campuses.

“There should not be organizations sanctioned by a university where there can be drinking and firearms, readily available implements to harm other people,” he said.

After the debate spanned two days, lawmakers proceeded to the next bill on the agenda. LB321 remains on general file.

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