Bills would reject federal restrictions on firearms

The Judiciary Committee heard testimony March 20 on two bills that would prohibit certain federal firearm restrictions in Nebraska.

Under LB451, introduced by Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen, any federal law, rule, regulation or
order that bans or restricts semiautomatic firearm or magazine ownership or that requires any firearm or firearm accessories to be registered beyond Nebraska’s requirements would be deemed unenforceable in Nebraska.

Janssen said he believes the federal government has been increasingly using executive orders to implement controversial policies such as expanded firearm restrictions. Nebraskans have a constitutional right to bear firearms, he said, and the bill would secure those rights by preventing such federal laws from being implemented in the state.

Grant County Sheriff Shawn Hebbert testified in support of the bill. Any executive order that attempts to control gun ownership is in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution, he said, and the federal government will not prevent violent gun tragedies by eliminating its citizens’ right to own a firearm.

“Violence and hatred come from within, and limiting guns will not prevent violence, hatred or massacres,” Hebbert said.

Cheryl Evenson, a Valentine resident, also testified in support, saying the bill would be a proactive approach to preventing the federal government from banning Nebraska citizens’ right to own a firearm.

University of Nebraska – Lincoln student Nick Sauma testified in opposition to the bill. The more appropriate way for the state to respond to federal gun control laws is by way of the judicial system, he said.

Joe Piper, a Nebraska resident, also opposed the bill, saying it would not be enforceable.

“We cannot restrict the federal government’s ability to enforce federal laws because it violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “For the state to pass legislation in order to make a blanket statement is impractical and reckless.”

Hoskins Sen. Dave Bloomfield introduced a second bill establishing that Nebraska-manufactured personal firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition would no longer be subject to federal laws or regulations within the state’s borders.

Under LB602, state and federal employees, officials and agents who attempt to enforce federal firearm restrictions on these items would be guilty of a Class I misdemeanor. The state attorney general would be allowed to defend a Nebraska citizen who is prosecuted by the U.S. government for violation of a federal firearms ban.

Bloomfield said Nebraskans should not be subject to any federal law or regulations that would prohibit gun ownership.

Lincoln resident Caleb Larsen testified in support of the bill, saying that gun restrictions impact law-abiding citizens more than they do criminals by eliminating citizens’ rights.

“When we strip away [gun] rights, then citizens do not have the capability to stand up against a government that could become oppressive in the future,” he said.

No one testified in opposition to LB602 and the committee took no immediate action on either bill.

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