And then there were 27… or at least there will soon be 27 states that recognize the right to keep and bear arms without the need for a government-issued permission slip. After months of debate and discussion the Nebraska Senate approved LB 77 on third reading on Wednesday, sending the legislation to Gov. Jim Pillen’s desk for his signature.
The Nebraska governor has already said he’ll sign the bill if approved by lawmakers, so it won’t be long before the state joins more than half the country in adopting permitless or constitutional carry legislation.
During Wednesday’s debate, Democrats including Sen. Jane Raybould railed against gun ownership in general, with Raybould declaring that the country is now “one nation under guns”, not God. Opponents also claimed to have discovered flaws in LB 77 that they say would force business owners and government entities to allow firearms on the premises, something that sponsor Sen. Tom Brewer pushed back on. Brewer says the constitutional carry bill doesn’t change who can carry or where they can do so, and private property owners can still bar concealed carry by posting signage just as they do now.
Brewer has been pushing for constitutional carry for seven years, and vowed to bring the legislation back again in 2024 if LB 77 was rejected today. Thankfully that won’t be necessary, with the unicameral legislature ultimately approving LB 77 on a mostly party-line vote of 33-14.
State Sen. Tom Brewer, who introduced the bill, says the measure guarantees the right to bear arms in Nebraska.
“What we do in this body sometimes is trying to follow through with the will of the people and give them the rights that they have in the Constitution,” Brewer said. “And sometimes we go out of the way and twist those rights and keep people from having them, and I think this is a case of that.”
Pillen was one of the first to congratulate lawmakers for passage of the permitless carry proposal.
I am proud to support LB 77 and Nebraskans' constitutional rights. Thank you to the Nebraska Legislature for sending this bill to my desk. pic.twitter.com/25kn0oT0jC
— Governor Jim Pillen (@TeamPillen) April 19, 2023
The constitutional carry train is likely to keep on rolling even after Pillen signs LB 77 into law. A similar bill has already cleared the South Carolina House and its Senate companion received its first hearing earlier this month. Meanwhile, Louisiana Republicans now have a veto-proof majority in both chambers thanks to longtime state Rep. Francis Thompson’s departure from the Democratic caucus last month. Even before Thompson added to the ranks of Republican lawmakers, permitless carry sponsor Rep. Danny McCormick was expressing confidence that lawmakers would be able to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ expected veto.
Republican Oil City state Rep. Danny McCormick’s House Bill 131 would allow Louisiana adults 18 and older to carry handguns without permits or training as is currently required.
“The question is why don’t we trust law-abiding citizens with their Second Amendment Rights?” McCormick said.
It will be the fourth time McCormick has carried the measure, which cleared the House easily last year before it stalled in the Senate in the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting where a gunman killed 19 children and two adults.
… McCormick said the gun rights expansion was the top priority for constituents in his rural northwestern Louisiana district.
He said the bill is particularly important to him because he wants his four granddaughters ages 10, 2 and twin 6-year-olds to be able to protect themselves as adults.
“It doesn’t make sense that they could walk into a store with a (pistol) strapped on their hip but they can’t put a snub-nosed .38 (pistol) in their purse to protect themselves from murder or rape,” he said. “My granddaughters are quite proficient with weapons.”
Today’s vote in Lincoln, Nebraska is great news for gun owners but there’s more work to be done and more victories on the horizon. It’s quite possible that by the time Louisiana’s legislative session wraps up for the year we’ll have 29 permitless carry states across the country, and that number could grow even larger if Virginia Republicans are able to capture the state Senate and maintain their hold on the House of Delegates when statewide elections take place this November.