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Nebraska gunowners group assessing legal options after executive orders, Omaha proposals

Posted at 7:17 PM, Oct 12, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska Firearms Owners Association says it is "assessing the appropriate legal actions" over responses in Omaha and Lincoln to the state's new gun law.

The Nebraska Legislature passed Legislative Bill 77 this spring. It allows for concealed carry without a permit and prohibits local governments from having their own gun laws.

Most recently, Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen proposed two ordinances: one bans bump stocks and the other targets ghost guns by banning unfinished frames and receivers.

"We are sincerely disappointed in the overreach of city powers no longer available with the implementation of State Preemption," NFOA President Patricia Harrold told 3 News Now in a statement.

Festersen said "public safety is best addressed on a local level and with local control." He said he worked with Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and City Attorney Matt Kuhse on solutions that wouldn't violate the new law.

"The law is still very limiting in what we can adopt here locally," Festersen said. "But we're confident these are common sense measures that we can take."

In the proposals, Kuhse wrote that trigger activators and unfinished frames and receivers are not firearms themselves, so they don't violate Nebraska's law.

State Sen. Tom Brewer, who sponsored the bill, disagrees.

"You're just playing word games if you pretend that you're not trying to regulate firearms," said Dick Clark, an attorney on Brewer's staff.

Clark called it a "lawless act to try to impose further regulations on people's right to keep and bear arms, especially when state law just plain simple tells you that you can't."

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer seems to support Festersen's proposals, saying in a statement: "I support the 2nd Amendment and the rights of gun owners. As Chief of Police I am responsible for the safety of our citizens and there must be a balance as Omaha has seen an increase in crime involving ghost guns. Lastly, I don't want my officers to have to confront a weapon with a bump stock."

Omaha Police said it recovered 46 ghost guns in 2022, up from 18 in 2021 and five or fewer the two years prior. The department said it had recovered 35 in the first half of this year.

On Festersen's proposals, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said: “I will evaluate any final and amended proposals - like firearms - with Chief Schmaderer to ensure the proposals are helpful in our successful efforts to further reduce crime while also not infringing on one’s right to have firearms as outlined in the constitution and the new state law.”

In late August, Stothert implemented an executive order banning firearms in all city-owned property.

Clark said the law allows cities to prohibit firearms on city-owned property, he said it goes too far by including park and sidewalks.

Kuhse stood by the proposals and executive order on Thursday.