Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen signs permitless concealed carry bill into law
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Gov. Jim Pillen signed the permitless concealed carry bill into law on Tuesday.
Last week, state senators voted 33-14 to pass Legislative Bill 77, which would allow Nebraskans to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
Pillen invoked the Nebraska Constitution, saying it’s Nebraskans’ right to bear arms for security, self-defense, hunting, recreational use and all other lawful purposes.
“Today, with the signing of this bill into law, we do justice to the constitutional promise,” he said. “Promises made, promises kept.”
State Sen. Tom Brewer, who introduced the bill and has been working on the legislation for seven years, was relieved to see it become law.
“To finally have all the votes down and have the governor sign it is a big relief,” he said. “To have any battle that goes on that long and to succeed is a really good feeling; to know that all that work wasn’t for naught.”
Brewer also thanked his colleagues and supporters of the bill before the signing.
“They stood hard at times when it would’ve been easy to say, ‘You know, this is just too much pain. There’s too many people sending me mean emails and calling me on the phone.'” Brewer said. “But they knew what right was and they knew we had to get the constitution back to where it should be and give the rights back that never should’ve been taken away in the first place.”
To buy a firearm right now, you must go through a background check and, if you want a handgun, get a purchasing permit.
Anyone who legally owns a gun can openly carry in the state.
And until the bill goes into effect in September, you have to get another permit to conceal your weapon.
SEE ALSO: Nebraska instructor thinks many will take gun safety course even if it’s not required
Those who oppose the bill, including Lincoln Police Chief Teresa Ewins, said having fewer requirements for a concealed weapon could put lives at risk.
In a statement last week, Lincoln Police said the chief is “disappointed in the Legislature’s decision because the most important factor in making these decisions should be public safety and the men and women who serve our community.”
On Tuesday, Pillen and Brewer said that while the Lincoln and Omaha police departments initially opposed the bill, they’ve worked to make it more palatable for law enforcement.
“The law enforcement that I’ve talked to are comfortable with this bill,” Pillen said.
Omaha Police changed their position to neutral after adjustments were made to require that people tell law enforcement when they’re carrying a concealed weapon.
Sen. Jane Raybould has spoken out against the bill over the past several months.
She noted that the bill covers not just handguns, but any concealed weapons, including high-capacity firearms, knives and even brass knuckles.
SEE ALSO: ‘We can be louder than a gunshot’: Nebraska students rally for tighter gun laws
Raybould feels the Legislature has failed to answer how it will keep both law enforcement and Nebraska children safe with the bill’s passing, especially as mass shootings and gun violence reach record levels.
“All these incidents show that our society is one nation under guns, and we’re going in the wrong direction by enacting more lax policies regarding guns,” she said. “The majority of Nebraskans want gun safety measures that keep them, their children and families safer.”
Raybould sent a letter to Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers’ office ahead of the bill’s passing to ask for an opinion on how the law would be enforced.
She asked whether cities and subdivisions will be able to prohibit concealed weapons on publicly or jointly controlled property like city buildings or Pinnacle Bank Arena. She also asked if that would include public transportation like city buses.
Raybould said she hand-delivered that letter to Hilgers’ office and asked Speaker John Arch to delay the bill’s final reading until she received a response.
But the final vote was not delayed, and Raybould says she didn’t get a response from Hilgers until after the bill had passed.
In that response, the attorney general said he could only give an opinion on legislation before it passes.
Raybould says despite the bill’s passing, she’s going to continue to fight LB 77 and work for more gun regulations in the state.
When the bill takes effect in September, Nebraska will become the 27th state that allows people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
Signing LB77 upholds the promise I made to voters to protect our constitutional rights and promote commonsense, conservative values. I appreciate the work of those senators who supported this legislation, and particularly that of Sen. Brewer who led and carried LB77 to the end. pic.twitter.com/iH8wjuoZoS
— Governor Jim Pillen (@TeamPillen) April 25, 2023