Restrictions make weapons bill meaningless

Friday, March 31, 2006

It's been a long battle for proponents, but Nebraskans will soon have the right to carry a concealed weapon, if Gov. Dave Heineman carries through with his plans to sign the bill.

That makes Nebraska the 48th state to make some provision for carrying a concealed weapon.

A similar measure was first introduced in 1996, but didn't make it to the floor of the Legislature until 2003, when it was voted down.

Supporters say carrying concealed weapons is a constitutional right, and the law will only put guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves from criminals who already have guns.

But there are a few restrictions.

You have to be 21, eligible under federal law to carry a gun, have good enough eyesight to drive, not a felon or convicted of a crime of violence, sober, no history of violence, not mentally ill, a resident of the county for at least six months, no history of gun or drug violations for the past five years, not on probation, parole, house arrest or work release, a citizen of the United States, not under investigation for any of the above and have completed a training and safety course.

Did you catch all that?

Oh, and there are a few places you can't carry a concealed gun.

Such as a police or sheriff's office, jail or prison, courthouse, polling place, public meeting of a political subdivision, or Legislature, bank, athletic event, anywhere having anything to do with a school, church, emergency room, political rally, bar, or any place where the owner prohibits it.

And Omaha. And maybe in the near future, Lincoln.

It's estimated that more than 64,000 Nebraskans could be granted a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

The question is, why?

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