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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Heated discussions on methamphetamines

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Last week the Legislature finished the 22nd Legislative Day and had a heated discussion regarding Sen. McCoy's Legislative Bill 20, which would regulate the sale of methamphetamine precursors such as pseudoephedrine. The heated discussion revolved around the civil immunity for sellers acting in good faith when logging information of the purchaser. The bill eventually was advanced with a 38-0 vote, with 7 not voting.

This week, I would like to focus on my LB 516, which would allow security guards, administrators, or teachers who work in educational institutions to carry concealed weapons by vote of their governing body. It is scheduled for its public hearing Feb. 16 in the Judiciary Committee.

As many of you know, there are parts of our culture where the moral fabric that holds our society together is coming apart. We witnessed a troubled student at Millard South take a life, seriously wound another, and take his own life. It was a sad day for Omaha and Nebraska. Fortunately, by God's grace more staff or students were not hurt.

Thinking about this incident, I felt like maybe we ought to have a discussion about how best to protect students and faculty in Nebraska's schools, since it is on so many people's minds. As a society, how should we respond to such senseless violence? The way I see it, we usually respond in one of three ways. We either resign ourselves to, "this is just the way things are now," or we crack down by taking freedoms away, which usually affects law abiding people the most or we can give people more freedom to defend themselves. The latter is how I lean.

So I decided to introduce a bill that would resemble similar exceptions in our current Conceal Handgun Act that allow security guards who have concealed handgun permits to carry in financial institutions and places of worship.

I knew that I didn't want to force guns into schools where folks did not want them. At the same time, I had discussions with others that wouldn't mind having an option for trained individuals to carry. So I thought that local control, by giving the elected governing body the choice, would allow for the most flexibility to respond to what staff, parents, and communities wished.

The bill requires a two thirds vote by the board with required notification of their policy to all students and their parents or guardian, if applicable. I did not want a decision like this to be decided on a simple majority, but where there was a greater majority. A school board could choose to have only security personnel carry, or just administrators, or both of them and teachers. It would be up to the governing body.

Most of the people I talk to either hate the idea of guns in schools, or think it is a great idea to help protect our students and faculty. I think it is sad that we have to think about measures like this in our schools, but these are the days that we live in. How many schools in Nebraska would use this option? I would guess that not many schools would choose such a policy. However, if it is needed in a particular school and it could save lives, I think as a state we should allow that freedom.

If you have comments, concerns, or questions about this bill or any other issue, please, call my office at 402-471-2805 or for more information you can view my legislative website at http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist44/.

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State Sen. Mark Christensen
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