LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — It's something 20 states already have: constitutional carry. The law allows citizens to carry a hidden firearm anywhere that guns are not banned. No special license is required.
If you want to carry a concealed gun in Nebraska, there are a few hoops to jump through first.
That includes paying for a permit and attending a gun safety course for eight hours.
“Don’t think of it necessarily as some special privilege that we’re given; what we’re giving them is a right they’re entitled to in the constitution,” said Sen. Tom Brewer, who represents a large portion of western Nebraska.
Brewer is trying to get rid of state laws that require residents to pay for training and a permit, something that can be time-consuming and cost hundreds of dollars.
“My purpose is simply to make it so that a person who has never done anything wrong and wishes to protect himself and her family, they can do that, and they can do that without fear of having an offense that can go on your record and mess up your life,” said Brewer.
State law currently allows for Nebraskans to openly carry guns, but not conceal them without a permit.
“When can’t that same person not be trusted to carry that same handgun under their jacket and shirt? What changes once the handgun is not visible to the casual observer?” said Jon Anderson, a supporter of the bill.
Opposing the bill were gun control advocates, but also police departments for the two biggest cities in the state, Lincoln and Omaha.
Omaha Police Union President Tony Conner says OPD takes hundreds of illegal firearms off the street and this bill could slow that down.
“This bill would hinder our ability to remove firearms from dangerous situations and individuals,” said Conner.
Omaha Police Department Captain Kevin Williamson explained why that may be the case if the bill becomes law, saying the current system allows police to look at the gun during a legal stop.
“We have no way of checking now if that gun is A, registered, or B, if that is a stolen firearm from a different jurisdiction like Bellevue, or Sarpy County or Colorado or Iowa, they could just say I’m armed and we have no legal ground to check that said weapon,” said Williamson.
Lincoln Police Department Chief Teresa Ewins worried that getting rid of the bureaucracy could get guns into the wrong hands.
“This bill will allow the criminal element of our communities to carry legally as they may not be a prohibited person, without a permitting process and training, you’ll have people carrying without the proper skills,” said Ewins.
If the bill is passed, you still would not be able to conceal carry if you’re prohibited from owning firearms, and some public buildings could still ban concealed weapons indoors.