LINCOLN, Neb. (April 25, 2023) – Today, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen signed a bill making it legal for Nebraskans to carry a concealed handgun without a permit and banning local gun control measures. The enactment of this so-called “constitutional carry” bill will also foster an environment more hostile to federal gun control.
Sen. Tom Brewer (N) filed Legislature Bill 77 (LB77) on Jan. 5. The legislation amends existing state law to allow adults 21 and over to carry concealed firearms without a permit. Active-duty military personnel, National Guard members, and police officers under 21 can also carry concealed without a permit.
LB77 also prohibits local governments from enacting their own gun control regulations, and any existing laws violating that provision will be “null and void.” At the same time, concealed carry will not be permitted in or on business premises where it is prohibited.
Additionally, the bill includes provisions banning cities from regulating the ownership, possession, storage, transportation, sale, or transfer of any firearm or weapon. Local governments will also be prohibited from requiring gun owners to register their firearms.
LB77 cleared the Senate on April 19 in a 33-14 vote. With Gov. Pillen’s signature, the law will go into effect on September 1.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL GUN CONTROL
While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless concealed carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.
The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”
Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.
State actions such as passing LB77 will lower barriers for those wanting to the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourages a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.
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