City of Omaha, Gun Rights Groups Ordered Into Mediation on Gun Ordinance

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

My understanding of mediation is that the goal is to try to find some middle ground, some kind of compromise that both sides can live with, even if they're not exactly thrilled by it.


When mediation is possible, it's probably a good route to go versus a long and lengthy court battle.

But sometimes, it just doesn't make a lot of sense. When your options are binary, all a mediator can do is decide who is right and who isn't. That's not really what mediation is about in most cases, especially when we're talking about a controversial issue that's bound to result in more court filing and appeals regardless of what comes about in mediation.

Yet that's exactly where Nebraska gun rights advocates and the city of Omaha are headed.

The City of Omaha and a statewide gun rights advocacy group have been ordered to enter mediation over various city firearm regulations that have been challenged as unlawful.

Douglas County District Court Judge LeAnne Srb ordered the mediation last week. It was not requested by either party. The order stems from a lawsuit the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association filed last December claiming that Omaha’s regulations banning bump stocks, ghost gun parts and gun possession on city property are unlawful under Nebraska’s new constitutional carry laws.


Jacob Huebert, the president of Liberty Justice Center, a Chicago-based nonprofit representing the gun owners group, said there isn’t much middle ground in this case unless the city concedes that the regulations are unlawful.

“I don’t know how much room for mediation there is here,” Huebert said. “It’s really up to the city. If the city recognizes the error of its ways and corrects it, then we can fix this in mediation, or even without mediation.”

City Attorney Bernard in den Bosch said the city is confident in its position.

“We’ll participate in good faith,” he said. “If either party is unable to move, then mediation is probably not going to be fruitful.”


And honestly, there's not much room for movement that's not outright capitulation to the other side. While Omaha making just that move might be the right thing, if they were inclined to do so they'd probably have done it by now.

They haven't.

Nebraska Firearms Owners Association isn't exactly full of people interested in just rolling over, either.

Mediation would work if there was some kind of middle ground, but Omaha is outright ignoring Nebraska's preemption law. It clearly states local communities can't restrict the possession of firearms except as prescribed by law, and there's no prescription for banning guns on city property.

This is one of those binary sets. Either Omaha is in the right or the gun rights advocates are. I fail to see how mediation will accomplish anything.

All this managed to do is issue another costly step into what's already set to be a long and ugly legal battle. I'd be shocked if Omaha decided to back down, though it would be a pleasant surprise.

Unless that happens, we'll have a mediation process that accomplishes nothing, then both parties will go back to court where they'll battle it out.


I honestly don't see what the judge thought would be accomplished in mediation other than keeping mediators employed. 

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