McCOOK, Nebraska -- Sen. Mark Christensen explained that LB232, his bill that changes the use of force provisions to include protection of an unborn child, needs to be revised to apply only to the expectant mother. He discussed amending the bill during his weekly Chamber of Commerce conference call at the Keystone Business Center, Thursday morning. Christensen cited concerns that were raised about a third party being able to use his bill as a defense against an excessive force charge or using it to justify an assault on an abortion provider. He further explained the need for the bill, saying that the existing self-defense laws would not protect the unborn child from a deadly blow, that otherwise was not lethal to the mother.
Christensen also discussed LB512, the bill he introduced at the request of the Nebraska State Patrol that seeks to remove the five year limit that the state patrol is presently bound by in releasing mental health information. According to the bill's statement of intent, the Brady Bill of 1993 federally prohibits individuals that were formally determined to be a mental defective, or involuntarily committed to a mental institution, from purchasing or possessing a firearm. In 2007 the NICS Improvement Amendment Act was passed to strengthen the Brady Bill and relies on the Nebraska State Patrol as a point of contact for background information. The bill will remove the five year barrier as well as allow individuals, previously disqualified due to a mental health issue, the ability to request a mental health board hearing to restore their second amendment rights.
Responding to concerns that the bills he had submitted could give the impression that his district was a "bunch of gunslingers," Christensen replied that you never really know if an issue is valid until you hear all sides of it. He pointed out that his bill, LB516, that would allow educators with conceal carry permits to carry guns on school grounds, was not one he expected to get far. "I didn't expect it to get anywhere, but I think it was a great discussion to have." He explained that it resounded with a number of people in rural schools, such as Southwest High School in Bartley, who hadn't previously considered "the bad position that teachers and educators could be put in if something ever happened," further mentioning the vast distance from the sheriff's department and resulting slow response time.
Christensen also discussed a group of 80 individuals that he is working with that have targeted reform of the Health and Human Services System. He said that the state of Maine had recently changed their HHS system and the group has been in contact with Maine's governor, looking to mimic the success they had in cleaning up that state's system.
Christensen also stated that two to three other states were looking at the Missouri model as well and that it would be good to look at several different states to help determine what would be the best approach.