On April 19, 2023, at 11:25 a.m., the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 77, the Constitutional Carry bill which Senator Tom Brewer has been diligently working to pass for years. The bill has to be signed by Nebraska Governor (R) Jim Pillen to become law. Governor Pillen has promised he will sign the bill.
LB77 incorporates a number of features to make Constitutional Carry in Nebraska a reality. One provision has been a sticking point in getting the bill passed. The bill strengthens the Nebraska preemption statute and eliminates the Omaha and Lincoln requirements to register handguns in those cities. From the bill:
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of any home rule charter, counties, cities, and villages shall not have the power to:
(a) Regulate the ownership, possession, storage, transportation,sale, or transfer of firearms or other weapons, except as expressly by provided by state law; or
(b) Require registration of firearms or other weapons.
(3) Any county, city, or village ordinance, permit, or regulation in violation of subsection (2) of this section is declared to be null and void.
The bill changes the definition of what is a concealed handgun so that if any part of the handgun is capable of being seen or observed by another person, it is not a concealed handgun:
(2) Concealed handgun means a handgun that is entirely obscured from view. If any part of the handgun is capable of being seen or observed by another person, it is not a concealed handgun.
While Nebraska’s legislatures are nominally “non-partisan,” Ballotpedia shows how they line up as Democrats or Republicans. There are 32 Republicans and 17 Democrats. As 33 votes are necessary to overcome the three closure votes, Republicans had to recruit one “non-partisan” Democrat” to obtain the necessary 33 votes. All 32 Republicans voted for closure on the Final Reading, which was the critical vote for Constitutional Carry. Senator Mike McDonnell of District 5, Omaha, voted for closure, adding the critical Democratic vote for LB 77.
Senator Brewer has had Constitutional Carry as a high priority since being elected in 2017. Senator Brewer is reported as saying Governor Pillen will sign the bill in a ceremony on April 26. From starherald.com:
“Brewer, who visited Pillen after LB 77’s passage, said the governor plans to sign the bill into law in a 2 p.m. CT ceremony April 26 in the State Capitol’s Warner Chamber.”
The bill is scheduled to go into effect three months after the current legislative session ends. It is expected the legislative session will end on June 9, 2023. The bill would then become effective three months later, on September 9, 2023.
Nebraska becomes the 25th state to restore Constitutional Carry, the 26th member of the Constitutional Carry club, and the 27th state to have permitless carry enshrined in state law. Vermont has always had Constitutional Carry. No permit was ever required in Vermont to carry a concealed, loaded handgun in most public places. Vermont has consistently had one of the lowest murder rates in the nation. Alaska restored Constitutional Carry in 2003. Arizona Restored Constitutional Carry in 2010. Since then 23 more states have restored Constitutional Carry. The Constitutional Carry club members are now:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Florida has permitless concealed carry.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.