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By Gordon Hopkins
Nebraska is one of 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process.
There are multiple initiatives currently circulating for the 2022 election that would change how the state regulates the owning, operation and possession of firearms.
Conceal and Open Carry Firearms in Public
One is the “Nebraska Conceal and Open Carry Firearms in Public Amendment,” which, according to the objective statement, would, “Allow legally concealed or open carry weapons to be carried wherever the public is allowed to be, through a constitutional amendment.”
The measure would amend Article I of the state constitution by adding the following text:
“Any individual who is legally carrying one or more concealed or open carry weapons shall be allowed to carry such weapons in every non-Federal location in the State of Nebraska at times and locations where the public is normally invited to attend or be present.
“If a private property owner does not allow weapons on the property of that owner, the weapon carrier, if asked to leave the area, is required to leave in order to avoid legal repercussions sought by the private property owner.
“Any governmental body may only request a weapon carrier to leave the area controlled by that governmental body if an armed security personnel is present to ensure the safety of all individuals present.”
The sponsors of the bill are 2022 gubernatorial candidate Michael Connely and Kelli Brady.
FJN reached out to Connely and asked why he felt such an amendment was necessary.
“I watched a documentary where a whole room full of convicts in prison were asked what the strongest deterrent was that kept them from robbing certain places, attacking people, or simply committing a crime,” said Connely. “First place was KNOWING that a victim may be armed. The preferred places to rob, or shoot up, or do some other criminal activity were places where ‘NO GUNS ALLOWED’ signs were posted. These are an open invitation for criminals to come in. They, in this big group, admitted exactly that. Most people know that schools are NO GUN ZONES, that makes them the MOST vulnerable. When the full access initiative gets passed and there are press releases stating that school employees, parents, and others WILL be armed, expect school shootings in Nebraska to be a non issue. What disgruntled students want to go into the school and get shot by a teacher? I am guessing close to NONE. Weakness invites aggression. Strength deters aggression. This is fact, pounded into us as well when we down-sized our military during the beginning of WW2 to show everyone we did not want to fight. It was then perceived as a weakness (it always is) and then we were attacked.”
Brady told FJN, “I would like to clarify the information on this initiative. It will allow a licenced (sic) carry/conceal person to legal carry in any public place. So schools will still have a normal protocol for visitors. If schools grant you access, then a legally carrying/conseal (sic) person would be able to enter. It would allow teachers, staff and employees that have a legal carry conceal license to bring a weapon into the building or area for protection of themselves or others.”
Permitless Carry of a Firearm
The other petition is the “Nebraska Permitless Carry of a Firearm Initiative,” which would amend the Nebraska Constitution to authorize individuals 17 years of age or older who have not been convicted of a felony or individuals under 17 years of age with legal supervision to carry both open and concealed firearms and bladed weapons without a permit or registration.
The sponsors of this petition are Robert Rhodes of Elkorn, Patricia Harrold of Papillion and Brenda Fourtner of North Platte, who announced her candidacy for the District 42 unicameral seat in August of last year.
This amendment would also allow individuals to carry weapons into any establishment except for “Federal buildings and properties,” and, “Locations that provide armed security for protection.” However, this amendment specifies open carry only.
FJN asked Nebraskans Against Gun Violence (NAGV) for a statement in response to the proposed amendments, “Nebraskans Against Gun Violence supports education and gun safety. Eight hours of training and a background check is not too much to ask before carrying loaded guns in public. Our position is that a reasonable person could argue that it’s currently an inadequate standard and perhaps there are missing components, such as a vision test or continuing education requirements.
“We encourage all Nebraskans looking to reduce firearm injury and death to lock up their guns and disarm their friends and family when domestic violence or suicide is a concern in the home. Most gun deaths in Nebraska are firearm suicides and tragically, many of them are veterans.
“Elected officials at all levels of government are encouraged to enact the following using public education campaigns and policy solutions.
Safe storage means nobody but the gun owner has access to the guns, including kids, teens, and rule breakers.
Encourage buddies through training to hold guns for each other when one of them is going through a rough patch.
Craft policy that gives families protection when one member isn’t safe with their guns anymore
“Gun violence is a public health crisis and we support serious funding of research, proven community programming, using a combination of education, policy, and accountability to reduce gun violence across the United States, including Nebraska.”
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