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Sen. Cavanaugh wants change after seeing guns at Capitol hearing Friday

Posted at 2:49 PM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-24 15:52:24-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Hundreds of people showed up to the Capitol on Friday to testify for and against gun legislation being considered by Nebraska's Unicameral.

On Monday, State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh voiced her concerns and fears regarding people openly carrying in the Capitol and at bill hearings.

Cavanaugh said:

“Normally, when someone testifies in opposition to a senator’s bill, they are not sitting behind that senator openly carrying a deadly weapon. If we were in the U.S. Capitol building, this would not have been tolerated.

I support and individual’s right to bear arms but like all other rights, there are parameters.

On Friday, hundreds of opponents to propose legislation showed up in the capitol in a display that was clearly intended to intimidate this body. Some may question the judgment of individuals who would be so bold as to have their finger on the trigger of a loaded assault rifle during a legislative testimony.

Colleagues, I’m asking that we as a body together to do better for one another and for the individuals visiting this building. Allowing weapons into this building, especially committee rooms, suppresses the voices of those who stand in opposition to the gun holders.

It was clearly the intent to intimidate this body. I won’t assume to speak for others in this legislature but for myself…I was intimidated, I was scared. I was worried about how someone might react to my bill and what I had to say might trigger a dangerous reaction.

I was worried about getting home to my children. I was worried about the safety of people testifying in support of my bill, the safety of the members of the judiciary committee, the safety of our pages and sergeants at arms.

No one should come before this body and fear for their safety when expressing a viewpoint.

Every single day we hear from individuals we agree and disagree with innumerable topics. Never before Friday, had I been concerned about everyone’s safety in exercising their first amendment rights."

Last month, Cavanaugh introduced LB958 which was scheduled for discussion at the Capitol on Friday. The bill would "prohibit the purchase or possession of a firearm by a person who has been criminally convicted of domestic violence or is the subject of a current and final domestic violence protection order, sexual assault protection order, or harassment protection order."

More on the hearings including a controversial statement made by one of the demonstration group organizers:

Demonstrators flock to Lincoln in light of gun bill

Controversy over testimony at Unicameral