Changes to firearm restrictions considered

Recklessly firing a gun would be illegal anywhere in Nebraska under legislation heard by the Judiciary Committee Jan. 22.

Current statute specifies that anyone who unlawfully and intentionally fires a gun at a person, building or vehicle is guilty of a Class IC felony, punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment.

Introduced by Wahoo Sen. Jerry Johnson, LB137 would eliminate the population requirement of the current law, whereby the unlawful discharge of a firearm is an offense only within the boundaries of any first class city and counties containing primary or metropolitan class cities. The bill would not change the penalty.

Johnson said all Nebraska citizens should be protected from gun violence, not just those residing in larger communities. He called the bill a public safety measure that would make the statute consistent across the state.

Julie Reiter, representing the Nebraska County Attorneys Association, testified in support of the bill. She cited two shootings in David City, which could be prosecuted only as misdemeanors despite the grave nature of the crimes.

“From my experience, this has limited my ability to prosecute heinous behavior that occurs in David City and Butler County,” Reiter said.

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

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