Nebraska Legislature passes permitless concealed carry bill

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Nebraska’s permitless concealed carry bill will be heading to Gov. Jim Pillen’s desk.

On Wednesday, state senators voted 33-14 to pass Legislative Bill 77, which would allow Nebraskans to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

State Sen. Tom Brewer, who introduced the bill, says the measure guarantees the right to bear arms in Nebraska.

“What we do in this body sometimes is trying to follow through with the will of the people and give them the rights that they have in the Constitution,” Brewer said. “And sometimes we go out of the way and twist those rights and keep people from having them, and I think (the concealed carry permit) is a case of that.”

In previous legislative sessions, Brewer has made the bill a top priority.

Early on in the final reading, State Sen. Jane Raybould filed a motion to place the measure back into the Judiciary Committee.  That motion failed 5-40.

“This bill is not ready for us to pass or approve,” she said. “There is way too much at stake.”

Opponents of the bill, including Lincoln Police Chief Teresa Ewins, have said the proposed law could put lives at risk.

“You have heard from law enforcement and the chiefs of police on how insistent they are to keep concealed carry permits in place for the protection of their officers and communities, and how important it is to kill this bill,” Raybould said.

Lincoln Police released a statement after the vote:

“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.”

After the final vote, things got a bit heated in the legislative chamber. An activist yelled “shame” at senators from the balcony.

The organization Moms Demand Action was at the Capitol watching closely.

The group said this bill comes at a poor time, as the nation reels from multiple mass shootings. 

“It’s only a matter of time before something gives people a wakeup call,” said Jennifer Hodge with the Nebraska chapter of the group.

SEE ALSO: ‘We can be louder than a gunshot’: Nebraska students rally for tighter gun laws

After passing three rounds of debate, the bill will go to Pillen, who supports the bill.

When he signs it, Nebraska would become the 26th state that allows people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

“We can tweak this bill more; there’s all kinds of things you could do,” Brewer said. “But we have put so many hours in and so many changes to get it to where it’s at now that I believe we’ve got a product that truly does what the people have asked of us.”

SEE ALSO: ‘It’s nice to finally get a bill passed’: Nebraska Legislature makes some progress

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