Lincoln, Nebraska isn’t exactly the kind of place you think of as a hotbed of anti-Second Amendment extremism, to say the least. I mean, it’s Nebraska. Rural states have a tendency to be very pro-gun and Nebraska definitely follows that tendency in most ways. One way they do is having a preemption measure as part of state law. While there are ways communities can pass local gun control ordinances, state law exempts people with concealed carry permits from such measures.
It’ll be interesting to see how state law will reconcile with the measure the Lincoln City Council just approved.
The Lincoln City Council has approved an ordinance requiring gun owners to report gun thefts to police within 48 hours.
The ordinance passed Monday night after being amended to remove a requirement that gun owners had to include the times, places and manner of the thefts. That requirement had raised legal concerns about self-incrimination if the owners hadn’t properly secured their weapons.
A mandatory storage ordinance for weapons stored in vehicles has been delayed as they try to rework the wording of the bill.
However, this alone is stupid to an extreme.
First, there’s the issue of preemption. This is a gun control law and the state has preemption. I’m pretty sure this isn’t one of those exceptions allowed for within the law. Further, the preemption law exempts concealed carry permit holders from such laws. Does that mean that if I have a concealed carry permit and my gun gets stolen, I don’t have to report it after all?
Then there’s the issue all mandatory reporting laws suffer from, and that’s how they’re incredibly difficult to enforce. For one thing, prove when someone knew the gun was stolen? Prove it was their gun when it was stolen?
Without some kind of gun registration–something Nebraska doesn’t have–whose to say who has what gun? While a permit is required to purchase a handgun, a concealed carry permit suffices. It doesn’t actually appear that you get a license for each purchase. Instead, it’s a three-year license that allows someone to buy as many guns as they want, so there’s absolutely no way to know who has which guns.
Further, this license covers private sales, which means there’s no actual universal background check that would create a paper trail of who owns which guns.
So, if Joe buys a Glock 19 and it’s later stolen and he fails to report it, how is anyone going to prove that he failed to report it stolen? He can just say he sold it to some guy who had a license, but he didn’t remember the name. He’s covered then.
Alternatively, Joe could say he’s surprised to find out that his gun was used in some crime. He didn’t even know it was missing.
Remember, our criminal systems calls for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew it was stolen and failed to report it. That’s very difficult to really do, to be honest, thus making such laws less than useless. They’re just a way to hassle those who want to be law-abiding.
It seems it’s time for the powers that be in Nebraska to step in and smack this nonsense down.