Shortly after Nebraska lawmakers signed off on a Constitutional Carry bill last year over the objections of local officials in Omaha and Lincoln, the mayors of those cities responded with new executive orders banning concealed carry from all city-owned property. The Omaha City Council got in on the action as well, approving ordinances prohibiting bump stocks and unserialized and incomplete frames and receivers.
The Liberty Justice Center partnered with the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association in challenging those new restrictions; not only on Second Amendment grounds but also alleging they violated the state's firearm preemption law, which leaves the field of firearms regulation to the state legislature and not localities. On Friday, the groups got their first taste of success in the litigation when Douglas County District Judge LeAnne Srb issued a preliminary injunction against Omaha's "gun-free zones", though she allowed the bans on bump stocks and "ghost guns" to remain in place, at least for now.
“We are thrilled with the court’s decision to grant this injunction and uphold Nebraskans’ rights against executive overreach,” said Jacob Huebert, president of the Liberty Justice Center. “Under Nebraska law, local governments do not have the authority to regulate firearms — the right to bear arms is protected across the state.”
Just before gun owners filed these lawsuits, Nebraska Attorney General Michael Hilgers published an opinion stating that state law preempts executive orders from the mayors restricting guns.
Hilger's opinion was limited solely to the carry ban imposed by Omaha's mayor, which prohibited lawful carry in all government-owned buildings as well as parks, green spaces, and even city sidewalks and streets. But the preemption language in LB 77 prohibits localities from adopting local ordinances dealing with the ownership, possession, storage, transportation, sale, or transfer of firearms, which should cover home-built firearms as well... though perhaps not items that can be used to build a firearm.
Omaha's ordinances prohibiting bump stocks as well as unfinished frames and receivers that are unserialized were allowed to remain in effect, however, because Srb concluded that the city is regulating "firearm attachments or modification components", not firearms themselves. Nebraska legislators could still moot these ordinances even if the courts allow them to remain in place by simply amending the state's preemption law to include accessories or modifications, though that would probably have to wait until the 2025 session given that the deadline to introduce new bills this year has already passed.
Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird's executive order banning guns from city-owned property, which is nearly identical to the one put on hold in Omaha, will get its own day in court later this month. A hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction is scheduled to take place February 27th in Lancaster County District Court, and hopefully it won't take too long for the judge to reach the same conclusion that Srb did; even if the city claims it is acting as a landlord, not as a government entity, in prohibiting lawful carry from all of its property, the "blunderbuss approach in the Firearms Order, coupled with the stated purposes of the order, appears to show actions taken in a governmental capacity as opposed to a proprietary one."
That's a polite way of saying that Omaha's defense of the mayor's anti-carry executive order is B.S. The executive order issued by Lincoln's mayor is just as problematic as Omaha's, and with the Attorney General's opinion that these measures are a clear violation of LB 77 and firearms preemption law, it shouldn't be difficult for the judge in Lancaster County to conclude that it too should be put on ice while the litigation continues.