Omaha City Council Blows Off Preemption

AP Photo/Marina Riker, File

Preemption of local gun control means local governments can’t pass their own anti-gun measures. Those must come from the state.

A number of states have preemption laws and most are pretty clear. They may allow restrictions in one or two specific areas, but local officials can’t pass their own gun control beyond that.


In Omaha, the city council thinks they can kind of do whatever they want, though. While the state has preemption, they’ve just voted to ban parts for so-called ghost guns.

The Omaha City Council voted Tuesday to ban ghost gun components in Omaha, but postponed a vote on an ordinance that would have banned bump stocks and certain other accessories that make semi-automatic guns fire more rapidly.

The council also approved a resolution supporting Mayor Jean Stothert’s recently issued executive order prohibiting people from carrying firearms on city-owned property. And council members approved a resolution encouraging gun owners to store their weapons safely and to take basic firearms safety classes.

“I’m confident we will address a bump stock ban in two weeks as well,” Festersen said.

LB 77 took effect in September. It allows Nebraskans 21 and older to carry concealed firearms without a permit. The state legislation invalidates any local ordinances limiting that ability.

Festersen worked with Schmaderer and City Attorney Matt Kuhse on the ordinances introduced Wednesday, intended to be among the few firearms regulations allowed under LB 77. Kuhse advised the council that the ordinances and resolutions were legal under LB 77, although State Sen. Mike McDonnell of Omaha told the council Tuesday that a legal counsel for a committee of the Legislature had opined that they violate the new state law.


In other words, someone somewhere is getting some bad advice.

Yet even if preemption wasn’t an issue, what Omaha is doing is kind of stupid. For one thing, the ordinance bans so-called ghost gun kits. It doesn’t ban possession of such a gun, though, which means one could buy a kit, have it outside of town somewhere, build and assemble it, then bring it back into town and be perfectly legal under this ordinance.

So even if “ghost guns” are some massive issue in Omaha, this law isn’t actually going to do anything about them.

Then again, even banning such firearms wouldn’t stop them, either, so what’s the point?

The point, though, is that the state senate just killed all their local gun control laws and now they’re trying to rebuild them as best they can. That’s it.

They delayed voting on a bump stock law, which shows you that it’s really about just passing laws. Bump stocks are currently illegal for most folks due to the ATF reversing their decision on whether they count as machine guns. Why ban them when they’re already banned unless it’s really about just passing laws for the sake of passing them?


Oh, I’m sure they’re also testing the preemption waters to determine what they can get away with, but it’s still not about public safety. It never really was, either.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member