Concealed handgun bill advances to final reading
Last week, the Legislature advanced one of my bills, LB 430, to Final Reading. LB 430 is a bill that addresses several issues with the Concealed Handgun Permit Act. I would like to discuss the provisions in the bill and some of the changes to the original.
As the bill stands, a valid concealed handgun permitholder will be able to travel throughout Nebraska; local ordinances pertaining to concealed handguns would not apply to the permit holder. Local ordinances would still apply to those people who do not have a concealed handgun permit. This provision was narrowed down from preempting all local firearm ordinances that dealt with possession, ownership, and transportation of firearms in the original bill.
For example, if I had a concealed handgun permit, and I traveled from Imperial to Lincoln for a Husker football game, and then on to Omaha to visit family, ordinances in Lincoln and Omaha that go beyond state requirements would not apply to a valid concealed handgun permit holder.
Moreover, the current law allows owners of property, including property directly controlled by city or villages to post signs prohibiting valid permit holders from carrying concealed on their property. LB 430 does not change this provision that is currently in the law.
What we did change last week on Select File, with AM1132, was to clarify that a permitholder in or on a vehicle can go into a parking area used by a prohibited location and not violate the Concealed Handgun Permit Act. The permitholder does not violate the act if, prior to exiting the vehicle the handgun is locked inside the glove box, trunk, or other compartment of the vehicle, a storage box securely attached to the vehicle, or, if the vehicle is a motorcycle, a hardened compartment securely attached to the motorcycle. This exception would not apply where firearms and concealed handguns are prohibited by federal law, such as elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.
There are several other provisions to LB 430. First, the requirement for the Nebraska State Patrol to issue a concealed handgun permit within five days after a criminal background check would be changed to within 45 days from application for a permit. This becomes operative on January 1, 2010. This provision gets rid of an open-ended process and replaces it with a consistent process.
Second, the bill allows permanently stationed military personnel in Nebraska who, for voting and tax purposes are not considered residents of Nebraska, to be considered residents for the purpose of obtaining a concealed handgun permit in Nebraska.
Third, LB 430 will allow a place of worship to authorize its security personnel to carry concealed handguns on its property so long as each member of the security personnel complies with the Concealed Handgun Permit Act and possesses such permit. This authority is modeled after the current law that allows security personnel for a financial institution to carry concealed handguns. Unfortunately, churches have become a soft target where dozens of people have been killed and injured over the last 10 years. This provision was placed back into the bill on the floor during General File debate after the Judiciary Committee removed it.
Fourth, the bill adds a new section to the Concealed Handgun Permit Act allowing for reciprocity, the recognition of concealed handgun permits and licenses from other states and the District of Columbia. This extends reciprocity if the individual was not a resident of Nebraska, and the state or the District of Columbia has been determined by the Attorney General to have standards equal to or greater than the standards imposed by the act. The Attorney General would be required to maintain and publish a list of those states who meet those qualifications.
Finally, an amendment on Select File debate added a definition of school to the current law of unlawful possession of a firearm at a school. It also added two new exceptions to this section of statute, one for members of a college or university rifle team, and another for employees of a college or university who are part of an agriculture or natural resources program.
I am very hopeful that LB 430 will pass on Final Reading and thankful we were able to accomplish several needed changes in the Concealed Handgun Permit Act.
As always, if you have comments, questions, or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.