A holstered handgun on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting
A holstered handgun on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting / Stephen Gutowski

Nebraska Legislature Passes Permitless Gun-Carry

The Cornhusker State is now one signature away from becoming the 27th to adopt permitless gun carry.

The Nebraska legislature voted 33-14 to pass Legislative Bill 77 on final reading Wednesday morning. The bill would allow adults aged 21 and over who would otherwise be eligible for a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm in public without obtaining one. The bill now goes to Governor Jim Pillen’s (R.) desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.

“I am proud to support LB 77 and Nebraskans’ constitutional rights,” Pillen said shortly after the bill’s passage. “Thank you to the Nebraska Legislature for sending this bill to my desk.”

Once signed, the bill will add another feather in the cap of gun-rights advocates who have successfully pushed the policy in states across the country over the last two decades. The bill will make Nebraska the second state to adopt permitless carry this year, following Florida’s adoption earlier this month, and the 26th state to enact the policy in the last 20 years. Vermont has had the policy since its founding.

The bill’s passage led to a familiar call and response among activists on either side of the issue.

Gun-rights advocates immediately celebrated.

“With Gov. Pillen’s signature, Nebraska becomes the 27th state in America that protects the right of Americans to carry a firearm outside of their home without first asking the government for additional permission and paying additional fees,” Travis Couture-Lovelady, the Nebraska state director for the NRA, said in a press release. “Nebraska is the latest state to recognize law-abiding citizens are not the problem — criminals are.”

While gun-control advocates denounced the bill as an affront to public safety.

“Nebraska lawmakers have chosen to put politics over protecting our families,” Jen Hodge, a member of the Nebraska chapter of Moms Demand Action, said. “Over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of young people across the country, and here in Nebraska, walked out of school to demand action on gun safety by their representatives, but instead, Nebraska lawmakers are actively stripping away safety measures.”

But the bill also represents a significant victory for state Senator Tom Brewer (R.), the bill’s prime sponsor, who has tried for years to get permitless carry across the finish line in Nebraska. His 2022 permitless carry bill narrowly failed in the state’s unicameral legislature after falling just two votes short of overcoming a Democratic filibuster. However, state Republicans made gains in the chamber last November and now have a filibuster-proof majority. That cleared the way for Wednesday’s successful final vote.

“A person in Nebraska should not have to pay money to the government in order to exercise a constitutional right,” Brewer said.

While the bill would do away with permitting requirements for gun carry, it would not alter who is eligible to carry or obtain a firearm. Those, such as convicted felons, who can’t legally purchase or possess a firearm under state and federal law would not be allowed to carry under the permitless law. It also would not change where people are allowed to carry.

In addition to doing away with permitting requirements for gun carry, the bill would strengthen Nebraska’s preemption statute by removing the authority of local governments to enact gun regulations that are stricter than state law. That measure was aimed at the city of Omaha, which previously required residents to register any handguns they owned unless they possessed a valid concealed handgun permit.

If signed, the bill will take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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