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Nebraska Legislature Guts Gun Control Bill

Thursday, March 13, 2008

On Wednesday, March 12, the Nebraska Legislature passed a heavily amended LB958, sponsored by State Senator Brad Ashford (District 20) by a 25-13 margin.

As now amended, LB 958 simply authorizes the state’s crime commission to study the causes of crime and violence in Nebraska and eliminates all references to "assault weapons." The commission would only be empowered to make recommendations to the legislature, not suggest legislation or enact regulations. The amendment (#2235) also repeals Nebraska’s archaic permit-to-purchase system, making it easier for law-abiding citizens to purchase a handgun. The legislation, as amended, would also set up a voluntary reporting mechanism for gun owners whose firearms have been lost or stolen. Gun owners in cities that require registration, such as Omaha and Lincoln, shall not be charged with a crime involving not registering or improperly registering if they are reporting the loss or theft of an unregistered or improperly registered firearm.

As originally introduced, LB958 would have required Nebraska’s law-abiding gun-owners to report the loss or theft of a firearm to police within 48 hours of the discovery of the loss or face criminal prosecution. This bill would have also mandated that every firearm sold be accompanied with a gun lock or trigger lock and require retailers to post a sign and provide written notice to buyers that all firearms should be stored locked. LB958 would also have created a new "Gun Violence Commission," to investigate "gun violence and gun-related deaths in Nebraska" as well as any "factors that contribute to gun violence."

After considerable opposition from Nebraska’s law-abiding gun owners, Senator Ashford significantly revised his original bill by removing the sections of the bill dealing with the reporting of lost or stolen firearms, mandatory gun locks and posting requirements. The new version of his bill would, however, have required the creation of an "Assault Weapons Commission" that would have been charged with making a list of firearms that it believed should be illegal in Nebraska. Despite being gutted from its original form, LB958 was still unacceptable to Nebraska's gun owners and sportsmen. However, thanks to the hard work of NRA and gun owners in Nebraska, Senator Ashford again agreed to narrow the scope of his bill resulting in Amendment 2235. 

This legislation must still be heard two more times and could still be amended. However, NRA is currently neutral on the bill, as currently amended.  

Please continue to check www.NRAILA.org for updates on this important legislation.

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