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By Steve Erdman
District 47 

Straight Talk from Steve: LB773

 

February 16, 2022 | View PDF

One of the bills that I have co-signed this year is LB 773. This bill would authorize private citizens to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Currently, the Concealed Handgun Permit Act allows cities to restrict the concealing of a handgun only to authorized permit holders. LB 773 would allow all Nebraskans to conceal their weapons anywhere in the state without having to carry such a permit.

However, the bill would not apply to those who have already been prohibited from carrying a handgun either by law or by the courts.

So, why is LB 773 so important? To start, the U.S. Constitution guarantees to the citizens of the United States the right to keep and to bear arms without government infringement upon that right. Generally, the rights contained in the Bill of Rights should not be infringed upon by governments. The right to keep and to bear arms is a universal right with exceptions made only for those who abuse that right. Laws which place undue burdens upon law-abiding citizens to use firearms are out of bounds.

The primary reason that people choose to conceal a handgun is for personal protection. According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of gun owners cited self-defense as their top reason for owning a firearm in a 2017 survey. Article 1-1 of the Nebraska State Constitution guarantees to Nebraskans the right to keep and to bear arms for the purpose of “defense of self, family, home and others.”

Moreover, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2008 in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, and again in 2010 in the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago that citizens of the United States have a fundamental right to use firearms for personal protection. As the Boy Scout motto says, those who carry firearms for personal protection do so simply to “be prepared.”

Police reaction time is often much too slow. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics the average reaction time it takes for police to respond to an incident is 19 minutes. Even when that reaction time is cut in half, nine minutes can be a lot of time to wait when someone is pointing a gun at you.

Once a gun gets introduced into a conflict, seconds matter. Allowing people to conceal their own weapons for personal protection evens the playing field between criminals and law-abiding citizens.

Nebraska’s Concealed Handgun Permit Act contains four restrictions which I believe undermine and place undue hardship upon Nebraskans who own handguns.

In order to get a conceal-carry handgun permit in Nebraska, a handgun owner must pay a $100 fee, pass a handgun and safety training course approved by the Nebraska State Patrol, get fingerprinted, and submit their application in person to the Nebraska State Patrol.

These restrictions are wrong. Charging a fee to practice a right contained in the 2nd Amendment and the Nebraska State Constitution undermines that practice as a fundamental right.

Passing a government approved handgun and safety course constitutes a gross form of government infringement upon that right. Getting fingerprinted constitutes a violation of one’s personal right to privacy.

Finally, submitting the application in person poses an undue burden upon Nebraskans, especially those who live in rural areas far away from the nearest office of the Nebraska State Patrol.

I am not alone in supporting LB 773. Besides Sen. Tom Brewer, who introduced the bill, LB 773 has 20 other co-sponsors! Seldom does a bill ever get this kind of widespread support in the Unicameral Legislature.

Nebraskans love their 2nd Amendment rights and LB 773 is a bill that I believe the majority of Nebraskans would like to see become a law.

 

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