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Unfinished Business: Enhancing Nebraska’s Commitment to Protecting Second Amendment Rights

Unfinished Business: Enhancing Nebraska’s Commitment to Protecting Second Amendment Rights

By Governor Pete Ricketts

May 3, 2022

 

Governor’s official photo here.

 

Nebraskans have long been strong supporters of the right to keep and bear arms.  Nearly 85 years after it was enshrined in the Second Amendment at the federal level, Nebraska’s leaders chose to make our stance on gun rights crystal clear.  Article I of the Nebraska Constitution proclaims that “the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes...shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof.”  This should serve as the exclamation point on where Nebraska stands in its commitment to constitutional gun rights.

 

But we can do better for Nebraskans.  Right now, law-abiding citizens must jump through burdensome hoops to carry a concealed firearm.  Our Nebraska State Patrol has done a phenomenal job streamlining the permitting process.  But statutory hurdles remain.  Existing state law requires individuals wishing to carry their legally owned firearm to first complete a handgun training and safety course; fill out a concealed handgun permit application; and then travel to the nearest Nebraska State Patrol Troop Headquarters to submit the application and undergo fingerprinting and a background check.  Then, they must wait until the application is processed and the permit is issued.  At best, these steps are a nuisance to law-abiding citizens looking to exercise their Second Amendment rights.  At worst, they are a barrier to those looking to protect themselves, such as victims of stalking or harassment.  Under constitutional carry, law-abiding Nebraskans who have already undergone the background check needed to purchase a handgun would not have to wait for a permit to carry concealed.

 

Nebraska can join the growing number of states who’ve taken action to get rid of these restrictions.  Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, and Indiana all enacted constitutional or permitless carry legislation in 2022.  Nebraska’s neighboring states of Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wyoming are also among the 25 states with constitutional or permitless carry laws.  Over 120 million Americans live under these laws, with more states looking to enact them.  Just last week, Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference to call on Florida’s legislature to pass constitutional carry legislation.

 

This year, Senator Tom Brewer of Gordon introduced and prioritized LB 773 in an effort to bring constitutional carry to Nebraska.  A solid majority of senators supported the bill, but it fell just two votes short of the 33 needed to overcome a filibuster.  The final vote that failed to advance the bill was 31-9.  All nine opponents were Democrats.

 

The typical arguments against constitutional carry simply don’t hold water.  For example, concealed carry laws don’t decrease safety.  The U.S. News and World Report has published public safety rankings for each state based on the FBI’s latest available data.  The top three states for public safety are Maine, New Hampshire, and Idaho.  All three are constitutional carry states.

 

Furthermore, constitutional carry legislation doesn’t mean abandoning common sense restrictions that prevent dangerous criminals from carrying guns.  The legislation only seeks to eliminate regulations that require a law-abiding citizen to carry a permit while carrying their concealed firearm. 

 

At the end of the day, constitutional carry is about rights.  A citizen authorized by law to possess a firearm shouldn’t have to pay a fee and ask permission from the government to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

 

I’m confident it’s only a matter of time before constitutional carry comes to Nebraska.  But it won’t happen without the determined activism of Second Amendment advocates in our state.  I encourage Nebraskans to see how their senator voted on LB 773 by clicking here

 

The National Rifle Association also grades political candidates based on their support for Second Amendment rights.  You can view those grades by clicking here.

 

While we work on constitutional carry legislation in Nebraska, we also need to be forward thinking.  To preserve our right to bear arms, we must individually pass on our love for and understanding of the Second Amendment to the next generation.  The “Take ‘em Hunting” program offered by Nebraska Game and Parks is a great way to do this.  The program encourages veteran hunters to take a beginner with them and pass their knowledge on.  Hunters can submit a picture and story of their experience online to be entered in a drawing for prizes (outdoornebraska.gov/takeemhunting).  This program has been hugely successful.  In just its third year, it’s already introduced more than 2,000 Nebraskans to hunting.  This year, “Take ’em Hunting” will run through the end of the spring turkey season on May 31, 2022.  So, when you go out to hunt this month, I encourage you to share your passion by taking someone with you. 

 

Our freedom to keep and bear arms is rooted in the recognition that our rights are given to us by God, not by the government.  These rights, declared in both our federal and state constitutions, shouldn’t be costly and time-consuming to exercise.  Together, let’s work to end the lengthy delay and cost in order to conceal carry in Nebraska.

 

If you have questions about my support for Second Amendment rights, please email pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244.  

 

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