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Law enforcement, gun owners at odds on red flag bill

Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 19:37:44-05

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — Gun owners across Nebraska are rallying against a bill in the legislature where if a red flag was raised it would allow law enforcement to take away their firearms.

"I think that should trouble all of us," says Brad Peterson, director of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association.

Peterson believes the Red Flag Bill interferes with his second amendment right to bear arms.

But he also says there's no due process in court, something guaranteed to Americans in the 5th and 14th amendments.

"There's no right for them to argue their side of the case. It's just issued and they have to live with it and fight it on the other side,” says Peterson.

But State Sen. Adam Morfeld said in a hearing last year that his bill does give due process, ensuring a hearing quickly before a final order can be given.

For Capt. Kevin Griger of Sarpy County, the bill could save lives.

"Unfortunately we have instances where there are suicides that have happened where had we had the ability to remove those weapons, prior to an incident happening, it could have saved somebody's life,” says Griger.

In the bill, a family member or law enforcement could petition a court for an extreme protection order for a variety of factors, like threatening violence, violating another protection order, or showing mental illness.

"If somebody is going through a mental health crisis, we believe it's a good idea to take guns away from the during that time,” says Griger.

Within 14 days there is a hearing where they can argue that they're safe to have guns. If the order is still granted, their firearms are taken to a storage locker, where they could be stored for a year, or longer.

"The red flag laws take away the ability to have a firearm without anything have been proven criminally against a person,” says Peterson.

Law enforcement is firmly behind the bill, with Omaha and Lincoln Police, along with the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office saying it'll make Nebraska safer.

"That should be an indication that we believe this is in the best interest of people to protect them, some people from themselves, others from other people,” says Griger.

Several smaller counties in Nebraska have declared themselves sanctuary counties. The resolutions have said that the Red Flag Bill violates both the U.S. and Nebraska constitution.

The bill has left the judiciary committee, but it’s unclear if it’ll reach the legislative floor this session.