Concealed weapon bill closer to law

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Nebraska is closer than ever to having a law to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons.

Sponsor Sen. Jeanne Combs succeeded in getting the 33 votes she needed, exactly the 33 she needed, to stop Sen. Ernie Chambers' filibuster of the measure. Nine senators voted both against ending the filibuster and advancing the bill to the last of three rounds of consideration, so the law is far from a sure thing.

"The only thing we have to do this session is pass the budget," Chamber said, vowing to block the measure by filibustering other bills if he has to.

The bill, supported by Gov. Dave Heineman, requires applicants for a concealed-weapon permit to pass a background check and complete a handgun training and safety course. The permit would cost $100 and be valid for five years.

Convicted felons would not be allowed to get a permit, and no one could carry concealed weapons into places like bars, police stations, public meetings, athletic events, schools, churches, hospitals and banks.

Opponents say there are too many guns in society now, and legalizing concealed weapons will only add fuel to the fire.

Supporters of the bill -- which was first introduced in 1996 -- say carrying concealed weapons is a constitutional right. The bill will merely put guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves against criminals -- who already carry weapons.

It is estimated that 64,000 Nebraskans could be granted licenses to carry concealed weapons.

Do most of us need to carry a gun?


Should law-abiding citizens be allowed to do so?

We see no reason why not. That's especially true in the case of women who are among the most vulnerable to assault.

Under the law, at least, anyone who carries a gun will be screened and trained to use it properly.

And, the possibility that anyone we meet might be carrying a concealed weapon is bound to make society a lot more polite.

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