The state of Nebraska has preemption. So do a lot of other states.
What that ultimately means, though, is that local communities can’t just pass their own laws unless the preemption measure allows it. For example, many states will allow a city to pass a law against discharging a firearm inside the city limits but nothing else.
Of course, what happens is many larger cities will pass every law they’re allowed to pass, even if they don’t need it, but that’s a topic for another day.
In Omaha, though, it seems the president of the city council had the bright idea that what they needed was a “ghost gun” ban. He seems sure that it doesn’t run afoul of the preemption law.
Unfortunately for him, the guy who actually wrote the law disagrees.
The author of Nebraska LB 77 is pushing back on Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen’s proposed city ordinances regarding guns.
One of the ordinances would ban untraceable ghost guns. The other would ban bump stocks — gun accessories that allow for a multi-burst trigger.
The council will also consider a resolution to ban handguns in public places like parks, following up on an executive order from Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert.
Festersen calls it a common-sense approach to curbing gun violence. The chiefs of police in both Omaha and Lincoln pushed back on LB 77, which allows anyone who can legally purchase a handgun in Nebraska to conceal it and carry it.
The author of LB 77, Dick Clark, tells 6 News that he doesn’t think Omaha has the legal ability to make its own gun laws. He says that’s up to the State Senators.
“We were hopeful that Omaha and Lincoln would recognize that once LB 77 was law, that included preemptions where there are certain powers cities no longer have, and that’s regulations of firearms and other weapons,” Clark said.
The thing is, a lot of cities don’t actually care about the law. They don’t seem to think they should be restricted from doing, well, anything. That includes passing their own gun control laws regardless of what the state seems to think.
And, to be fair, they can’t.
There’s really nothing stopping them from having any restrictions on the books they want.
It’s when they enforce it that they run into a problem.
Without enforcement, a law is nothing but words on a page. You can’t even challenge them in court because you generally won’t have standing to do so.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Omaha and Lincoln can’t just ignore preemption simply because they don’t like it. They can’t pretend that the law doesn’t exist because it’s better for their worldview.
My hope is that sane people recognize what is happening and put a stop to it, but Omaha and Lincoln are the anti-gun islands in pro-gun Nebraska. They’re part of what has kept the state from moving forward on gun rights.
Still, when the guy who wrote the law says what you want to do is a violation of that law, you should probably listen.