Nebraskans face the prospect of a ban on various firearms dubbed “assault weapons” if a special committee proposed by a heavily rewritten gun control bill is enacted. The measure was approved by a 6-0 vote of a state Senate committee in late February and now awaits a floor vote by the unicameral legislature, according to The Omaha World-Herald.
As amended by the Judiciary Committee, LB-958 would create a permanent seven-member law enforcement commission to develop a list of guns deemed “inherently dangerous.” The legislature would be required to vote on whether to ban the guns for sale or resale in Nebraska. As currently worded, the bill requires the commission to update the list every two years.
All of the bill’s original provisions were stripped out. Those provisions required that all guns be sold with a gun lock or trigger lock, that the loss or theft of a gun be reported to authorities within 48 hours and that people convicted of gun felonies go to prison for at least five years.
State Sen. Brad Ashford (20th Dist.), sponsor of the bill and amendment, said he decided that the original provisions would do little to prevent another incident like the December Von Maur shootings at Omaha’s Westroads Mall, in which eight people were killed at the Von Maur department store by a disturbed 19-year-old man armed with a semi-automatic rifle. The shooter killed himself.
After briefly considering requiring permits to purchase any firearm, whether handgun or long gun, Ashford decided to focus on what he called “military-style” weapons.
Ashford proposes a governor-appointed commission of representatives from the State Patrol, the city of Omaha and a city other than Omaha; the governor, the attorney general and the Judiciary Committee chairman or their designees; and one firearms retailer. The panel would define assault weapons, using criteria specified in the bill, and identify a list of weapons that meet those characteristics to be presented to the legislature.
Voting with Ashford to advance the bill were Sens. DiAnna Schimek and Amanda McGill, both of Lincoln, Vickie McDonald of St. Paul, and Ernie Chambers and Steve Lathrop, both of Omaha. Sens. Dwite Pedersen and Pete Pirsch, both of Omaha, abstained.