‘It’s kind of like having a parachute’: Nebraskans voice opinion on concealed carry bill

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The hearing for a reworked and less restrictive constitutional carry proposal was held at the State Capitol on Thursday.

Like the measure that fell just two votes short last year, Legislative Bill 77 would allow people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

State Sen. Tom Brewer introduced the bill, which has 25 cosponsors.

The Nebraska Firearms Owners Association held a rally before the hearing, encouraging people from across the state to testify in support of the bill.

“This simply allows that law-abiding citizen to instead of open carry, to conceal carry,” said Patricia Harrold, the association’s president. “It’s not about a proliferation of firearms, it’s not about a gun in every home. It is about individuals having that choice to exercise that right.”

Supporters say putting guns in the hands of law-abiding people will help protect them and make criminals think twice about committing crimes in the future.

“It’s kind of like having a parachute. The only time you really want a parachute is when you really need it,” she said. ‘Many of us who embrace this lifestyle of personal protection want to have that opportunity to carry without having to pay the exorbitant fines and the training requirements.”

The latest version of the bill doesn’t include some of the amendments that police officers right here in Lincoln and over in Omaha previously pushed for.

Police officers have added that this legislation will only make their jobs harder.

The new bill would override local ordinances, canceling restrictions currently in place that restrict where people can carry weapons.

It also drops a proposed enhancement penalty for anyone caught carrying a concealed handgun during a crime.

Opponents say the measure was already dangerous to begin with, as gun owners wouldn’t have to go through a criminal background check or special training.

Several Nebraska residents spoke at the hearing to oppose the bill, including Ron Cunningham, who says it would make him nervous to go out somewhere not knowing who has a gun on them.

“I own guns myself, but I think there has to be reasonable limitations,” he said. “And I think right now, the second amendment is being overplayed.”

Gwenn Aspen and her daughter Amelia also spoke at the hearing, saying she doesn’t feel safe with untrained people going out in public with a concealed gun.

“We believe, as gun owners ourselves, that guns are super powerful and people need to be trained if they’re going to be taking them around town,” she said.

Amelia added that if people don’t take the time to properly train and handle their guns, it creates more danger.

“My dad has always taught us how to clean guns and how to work them properly and how to be safe with them,” she said. “Even good people if they don’t know how to handle guns, it could be very dangerous.”

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