Nebraska Governor says he's not done fighting for Constitutional Carry

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Nebraska’s legislature may not have been able to pass a Constitutional Carry bill this session, but Gov. Pete Ricketts says he’s confident that the state will eventually approve the measure. In a new op-ed, the Republican governor called out the nine Democrats in the state’s unicameral legislature who were able to filibuster the bill earlier this year, while laying the ground for another attempt next year.

Ricketts pointed out that half of the country has now adopted Constitutional Carry language, and argues that the criticism of the law just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

For example, concealed carry laws don’t decrease safety. The U.S. News and World Report has published public safety rankings for each state based on the FBI’s latest available data. The top three states for public safety are Maine, New Hampshire, and Idaho. All three are constitutional carry states.

Furthermore, constitutional carry legislation doesn’t mean abandoning common sense restrictions that prevent dangerous criminals from carrying guns. The legislation only seeks to eliminate regulations that require a law-abiding citizen to carry a permit while carrying their concealed firearm.

All that is true, but I do wish that Ricketts had brought up one of the biggest hurdles for Constitutional Carry in Nebraska: the handgun registration ordinance in Omaha. Sen. Tom Brewer, who sponsored the Constitutional Carry bill in Nebraska this year, originally included language in his bill that would have in essence voided that local ordinance, but ultimately (and unsuccessfully) tried to weaken that original language by providing a carveout for the city in the hopes of the police dropping their objections, which might have wooed a couple of Democrats to sign on.

That amendment died on a 13-29 vote, which means that almost every senator who voted for Constitutional Carry voted against it, and for good reason in my opinion. Constitutional Carry shouldn’t come with an asterisk, and that would most definitely be the case if residents of the state’s biggest city were still required to obtain a government permission slip to keep and bear arms. As Ricketts himself says in his op-ed:

At the end of the day, constitutional carry is about rights. A citizen authorized by law to possess a firearm shouldn’t have to pay a fee and ask permission from the government to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

That’s true whether you live in Omaha or Ogallala, so I find it difficult to believe that a Constitutional Carry bill that has a carve out of any sort for one or two population centers is ever going to get the support of a majority of Nebraska lawmakers. Gov. Ricketts is right to call out the Democrats in the Senate who stymied the passage of Constitutional Carry, but voting them out (or at least enough of them to override a filibuster) is likely what’s really needed if Nebraska is going to join the growing ranks of the Constitutional Carry states in the near future. As Ricketts acknowledges in his new column, Constitutional Carry won’t become law in Nebraska without the “determined activism” of Second Amendment advocates, but the next elections for the state legislature won’t happen until 2024. Gun owners can and should try to persuade their senators to get on board with the legislation in the coming months, but it may take unseating a couple of incumbents to get a strong bill to the governor’s desk.