Nebraska Senator Tom Brewer legislative update
Jan. 15, 2021 – I have spent a lot of my life fighting for this country. The fact that the United States is a beacon of freedom in the world is what always made me proud to wear the uniform. We believe that people ought to be free. The right to keep and bear arms is one of the most sacred rights enshrined in our federal and state constitutions.
The past twelve months have presented steady reminders of why this right is so important. More and more, people of all political stripes have decided to take responsibility for protecting themselves and their families. Month after month, 2020 set records for new gun sales. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, about 8.5 million people became first-time gun owners in 2020.
In Article I, Section 1, our Nebraska Constitution recognizes “the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for common lawful defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes, and such rights shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof.”
This version of the constitutional language was placed there by voters not in some ancient time, but in 1988 by initiative measure 403. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues in the Legislature have been reluctant to fully honor this promise. Because of that, state law prohibits most people from carrying defensive weapons concealed.
To carry a concealed handgun legally, folks have to pay hundreds of dollars for a required course and permit application fee. In my first year in office, I introduced LB 502 to make Nebraska a “constitutional carry” state. That bill was shot down by anti-gun senators. The same year, Senator Mike Hilgers introduced his LB 68, to end the patchwork of local gun control measures that are layered on top of state and federal law. Despite heroic efforts by Senator Hilgers, that bill died on Select File, mostly because of urban senators who claimed that the bill violated the principle of local control.
During floor debate on LB 68, anti-gun Senator Adam Morfeld stood on the floor and said, “I am in support of responsible policy that allows for local control to react to the varying circumstances of their locality or city or county. […] Maintaining that local control is critical because the reality in Ainsworth is a lot different than the reality in north Lincoln or north Omaha[.]”
On Day 4 of the 2021 legislative session, I introduced Legislative Bill 236. It proposes more local control, and recognizes that many counties in Nebraska have taken our gun rights more seriously than state lawmakers. In 2020, nearly a dozen Nebraska counties, most of them rural, passed “Second Amendment Sanctuary County” resolutions. I appreciate that these county officials are standing up and declaring that they will honor their duty to uphold our God-given, constitutionally recognized rights. LB 236 would give counties the power to declare that permitless carry of concealed weapons is lawful in their jurisdictions for anyone who is not a felon or otherwise prohibited from possessing weapons. I do not believe Nebraskans ought to have to pay hundreds of dollars to exercise a constitutional right. If LB 236 is passed into law, I believe that rural Nebraska counties will lead the way and show our more timid urban neighbors that freedom is the best policy.
Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.
–Senator Tom Brewer
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