For Immediate Release:
Nebraska Firearms Owners Association Applauds Efforts of Senators on LB289: Nebraska Firearm Laws Equality Act
|Lincoln, NE, January 27, 2016 – the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association (NFOA) commends the efforts of Senators Laura Ebke, David Schnoor, Bill Kintner, Tommy Garrett, and Brett Lindstrom to pass Senator Ebke’s LB289 that would have brought equality to the firearms laws in Nebraska. The bill would have removed municipal ordinances in direct violation of Article One - Section One of the Nebraska Constitution to bring cities into compliance with our State Constitution by ending the patchwork of firearms restrictions and ensuring uniform treatment for all law abiding gun owners. This morning, however, a few senators chose politics over principle when they voted against the bill. These include Senators Galen Hadley District 37, Bob Krist District 10, Roy Baker District 30, Heath Mello District 5, and Adam Morfeld District 46.
Some of the senators opposing the bill, including Senator Kolowski and Senator Mello, justified their votes claiming their constituents have asked them for more local control over laws.
“We understand the desire and need for local control on issues such as how tax dollars are spent,” NFOA president Rodney Moeller stated, “but there’s a difference between that and state level laws managing other issues. Both Lincoln and Omaha have gun control laws so oppressive it would be absolutely absurd if applied similarly to any other issue. Consider a driver who receives a DUI, completes rehabilitation, and is reissued their driver’s license by the State of Nebraska, but being told by the City of Lincoln that they are prohibited from driving within the city limits due to a local ordinance prohibiting driving by anyone with a prior DUI. There are some issues that should be managed at a State level.”
The City Ordinances of Lincoln remove firearm rights of Nebraska citizens for over two dozen nonviolent misdemeanor infractions – well in excess of State and Federal Law, including carrying a folding Boy Scout-style pocket knife that’s 3 5/8 inches long. Omaha City Ordinances allow for the confiscation of a legally owned handgun by an out-of-city, or out-of-state, visitor traveling through city limits if pulled over and they don’t have their handgun registered in Omaha. These and other minor infractions have their own punishments and fines at a city level. To further use minor infractions at a city level to restrict the fundamental rights of firearm ownership and self-defense is a violation of Article 1 of the Nebraska State Constitution. Senator Morfeld even attempted to assert that Article One is subject to interpretation, and that the Unicameral could redefine its intended and clear meaning.
Debate in the legislature over the bill was heated with testimonies from citizens, community organizations, and representatives of several Cities with Washington DC-style firearm laws. The City of Lincoln claimed that if LB289 passed, then they would not be able to protect women and children at battered women’s shelters within the City because the law would prevent them from posting signs prohibiting firearms on those properties.
“Protecting women and children who are victims of violent crime is our responsibility as a society,” Moeller continued. “For years, the NFOA has been supporting bills in the legislature like the Victim Protection Act (LB612) that would do just that. It’s unfortunate that the City of Lincoln knowingly misled senators with their dishonest testimony that the Firearm Laws Equality Act would prevent the City of Lincoln from posting signs on their women’s shelters when State statutes clearly allow both government and private entities to prohibit firearms within their buildings.”
Various individuals and organizations, including the NFOA, claimed that the local gun control ordinances are unconstitutional when compared to Article 1 of the Nebraska State Constitution.
However, several senators, including Senators Morfeld, Patty Pansing Brooks District 28 and Burke Harr, District 8 refuted these claims by suggesting the local ordinances are not unconstitutional because the city ordinances have not been challenged in court and without a court decision, there is no way to determine constitutionality.
“Sure there’s an expensive court system and procedure to challenge the city ordinances,” Moeller stated in response to Senator Morfeld, Pansing Brooks, and (B) Harr positions. “But that’s a lawyer’s perspective and overlooks two very important points of the unconstitutional city ordinances. First, the majority of people who are victims of these oppressive gun control city ordinances are low-income and don’t have the money to pay for expensive lawyers to defend them in court – they rely on City-employed defense attorneys. I’ve met these victims, many who unknowingly were found guilty of these minor infractions, and they couldn’t afford to fight a massive city government with unlimited resources fueled by tax dollars. And that’s the second point: tax dollars. It’s not the City politicians or the even the State Senators, like Mello, Kolowski, Pansing Brooks and (B) Harr, who end up paying the court fees when the city ordinance is found to be in violation of the Nebraska State Constitution. It’s the tax payer who’s already stretched thin by property, sales, and other local taxes who foots the bill. The City of Omaha has already lost court challenges to their unconstitutional gun control ordinances. How many more thousands of dollars should the tax payers be forced to spend to defend overreaching, unconstitutional city ordinances?”
Nebraska Firearms Owners Association (NFOA) is organized for the purpose of voicing the opinion of its membership to the Nebraska Legislature and other law making bodies within the state as well as Federal level, as it pertains to firearms. NFOA members also make it a priority to educate residents on firearms related issues.
On the web: www.NebraskaFirearms.org or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
President, Nebraska Firearms Owners Association
P.O. BOX 27131
Omaha, Nebraska 68127