Nebraska lawmakers took a big step Friday toward allowing gun owners to carry concealed firearms without a permit, background check or special training.
State Senator Tom Brewer of Gordon saw his so-called constitutional carry bill receive 35-9 first-round approval after defeating a filibuster with a 36-9 cloture vote after 8 hours of debate over 2 days.
The final tally included 3 senators who’d supported the filibuster, but switched their votes to yes from present-and-not-voting after it reached 33 in favor.
It’s not guaranteed Brewer can beat a filibuster on select file. Omaha Senator Tony Vargas provided the 33rd vote, but said he would oppose the bill if an amendment wanted by Omaha police and promised by Brewer is added.
22 other states with conservative legislatures and leaders have approved similar measures with Alabama doing so on Thursday. At least 3 other states have such bills pending.
Nebraska already allows legal gun owners to carry their weapons in the open in most public places, but Brewer told his colleagues on Thursday that concealed carry is actually safer.
Lincoln Senator Adam Morfeld said Friday he’ll continue to oppose the measure because he sees removing the requirement of taking a gun safety course before being able to carry a concealed gun as a public safety risk.
The Lincoln Police Department and the Nebraska police chiefs’ association both oppose it as does the Omaha Police Officers Association if Brewer’s amendment isn’t added.
Tempers rose at times as emotions frayed. Senator Machaela Cavanaugh accused Brewer of belittling her over concerns about open carry runs in the Legislature, then stormed out after Senator Julie Slama accused her of disrespecting Brewer.
Lincoln Senator Patty Pansing Brooks asked why “the adults” didn’t step in during the dispute and Omaha Senator Steve Lathrop said debate has become more personal than when he was elected to the first of his split 3 terms in 2006.