Hundreds of gun owners in Nebraska showed up at the state capitol last week to oppose bills that would have expanded background checks in the state as well as establishing a “red flag” law, and while they were successful in defeating the measures, one state senator is now proposing a new gun control law as a result of the citizen activism: a gun ban at the state capitol.
State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh believes the intent of the men who brought assault rifles to the Capitol Friday was to intimidate lawmakers.
“I was scared. I was worried about how someone might react to my bill and what I had to say might trigger a dangerous reaction,” Cavanaugh said.
Cavanaugh spoke from the legislative floor Monday to voice her concerns over the state’s open carry law.
“Allowing weapons in this building, especially into committee rooms suppresses the voices of those who stand in opposition to the gun holders,” she said. “It was clearly the intent to intimidate this body.”
I’m not sure how a few people legally exercising their constitutionally protected rights qualifies as “intimidation,” especially since there were no arrests or reports of any gun owners behaving badly. If Cavanaugh was scared at the sight of people exercising their Second Amendment rights, that says more about her than it does about Nebraska gun owners.
While the senator says she wants to introduce a new bill that would outlaw open carrying at the capitol, Governor Pete Ricketts sounds like he’s not a fan of the idea.
“I support our Second Amendment rights and I support our folks who are going to take advantage of that with our right to open carry,” he said. “That’s what we have in the state of Nebraska and this is the people’s house.”
The governor is right, Cavanaugh is wrong, and that should be the end of the story. I suspect, however, that Cavanaugh is going to try to rally support for her gun ban idea among her colleagues in the unicameral legislature. Even one senator described as a “staunch Second Amendment supporter” by KETV says he didn’t think it was necessary for citizens to carry inside the capitol building.
“I openly said I didn’t think there was a need for anyone to bring a gun into this building,” [Sen. Tom] Brewer said.
That being said, he believes the 90-second committee rule to limit testimony did a disservice to the gun rights advocates who wanted to speak.
“All I’m asking, let’s not write dumb bills to cause people to get stirred up and come into this building and want to speak and then deny them the ability to speak,” he said.
If you want to see people stirred up, go ahead and propose a law that would bar legal gun owners from carrying at the capitol. Instead of 400 gun owners, Nebraska legislators would likely be looking at 4,000 armed citizens descending on the capitol to protest and speak out against the measure. It that’s what Cavanaugh really wants, she should go ahead and pursue her gun ban. I think a far better course of action would be for her to actually talk to some of those armed citizens, instead of demonizing them, but that may be too much to ask from the anti-gun politician.