LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Lawmakers debated all day Thursday on a bill that allows Nebraskans to carry a concealed handgun or knife without a permit.
State Sen. Tom Brewer has said his bill allowing Nebraska to carry concealed handguns and knives is the most important bill he’s sponsored in his six years.
He says it simply makes it easier for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.
“Concealed carry gives you the ability to protect yourself and your family, and do that in a way that no one else feels threatened. And again, this is a right, not a privilege,” said Brewer.
Current state law requires Nebraska citizens who want to carry a concealed weapon to obtain a permit from the Nebraska State Patrol and participate in a gun training class.
This bill would remove those requirements and make them similar to open carry laws in Nebraska.
Supporters say residents should not have to pay fees for a constitutional right.
“Did I miss somewhere when I was reading the Second Amendment, it’s very short, where we’re required to pay $200 and take a class to exercise those rights,” said Sen. Julie Slama.
Opponents like Sen. Steve Lathrop worried the bill removes a step that could prohibit undesirable people from having guns, and that the mandated training classes help residents know how to properly handle firearms.
“I do find value find in the permit process that screens who may or may not [conceal carry], and I find value, particularly in the training,” said Lathrop.
Law enforcement in Omaha and Lincoln are not supportive of the bill, and spoke against it in a hearing earlier in the session.
“There are still concerns with this legislation from our law enforcement community, where gun violence is the highest,” said Sen. Adam Morfeld.
But an amendment that would make Omaha Police neutral would still require Omaha residents to register their concealed firearms, with additional penalties if concealed weapons are used in crimes.
Some questioned the intent of that amendment.
“I don’t think it’s surprising to understand that the City of Omaha is the city in the state with the highest population of black Nebraskans. I don’t think it’s a coincidence we are carving them out,” said Sen. Jen Day.
Brewer said while Lincoln and Omaha may not be on board, rural law enforcement have been asking for this due to their smaller police forces.
“The sheriffs appreciate the fact of having good citizens armed in the event if they need it,” said Brewer.
Opponents are filibustering this bill, and a vote to overcome that and to advance the bill is expected Friday morning. Nebraska would be the 26th state to pass this type of bill it goes completely through.
The Nebraska Legislature voted earlier this week to pull this bill out of committee, which got 32 votes, but to advance the concealed carry bill, they’ll need 33 votes.