Sunday, March 12, 2023

NE: Constitutional Carry Bill Passes Critical Vote

On Friday, March 3, 2023, the Nebraska Constitutional Carry bill LB77 passed a critical vote in the Nebraska legislature.  Nebraska is the only unicameral legislature in the 50 states of the United States. When Nebraska switched from a traditional bi-cameral legislature to a unicameral one, in 1934, at the height of the Progressive revolution, safeguards were put in place to prevent a simple majority from exerting excessive power.

Bills proposed in the legislature have to pass three votes which require debate and may be filibustered. The three votes are: the General File (done, 36 to 12), the Select File (pending) and the Final vote (after the Select File).  In these debates, if the bill is filibustered, a vote of cloture is required. 33 votes out of a possible 49 are required for cloture.  In Nebraska, a bill has to have 33 yes votes, in each of the three debate votes, to be sent to the governor for signature.

The time between the votes allows for considerable horsetrading, logrolling, and arm twisting.

While the Nebraska legislature is nominally non-partisan, in practice there are Republicans and Democrats. Using the excellent voting resource of Ballotpedia, Nebraska has 32 Republican senators and 17 Democratic Senators.  As 33 votes are needed to pass a bill, if all 17 Democrats vote against the bill, or do not vote, they can stop any bill from passing. If one Republican votes against Constitutional Carry, then two Democrats are needed to vote for it to pass the bill.

Four Democrats voted to pass Constitutional Carry. Two of them are the only two black legislators in the Nebraska senate. Both are from Omaha. Senator Terrell McKinney of District 11 has been a consistently supported Constitutional Carry in 2022. Senator Justin Wayne of District 13 has been for and against Constitutional Carry, depending on the amendments. The persuasive argument for Senator Wayne has been the use of infringements on the Second Amendment to target black and brown people. From the legislature:

Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne expressed concern over the pending amendment. While in favor of a provision in the underlying bill that would eliminate Omaha’s gun registry, he said the ability to stack charges under the amendment also could have a disproportionate impact on minority communities.

“I’m struggling with more Black and brown kids — based on the testimony in the hearing — being charged and going to prison for, if not significant time, maybe life,” Wayne said.

The Constitutional Carry bill, LB77, strengthens Nebraska preemption law. It overrides and eliminates the current Omaha law which requires handgun registration. From

It's that Omaha law that spurred Omaha Sens. Justin Wayne and Terrell McKinney to break party ranks and support the bill.

“How many young African American and Latino kinds are affected by Omaha’s gun laws?” asked Wayne on the Senate floor. Young Black people in Omaha are often charged with gun possession violations when a gun that's not theirs is found in a car they're riding in, Wayne said.

The practice, known in law enforcement circles as “bumping up,” disproportionally affects people of color, he said.

“When they're talking about bumping up kids in Omaha, they're not talking about kids in Bennington,” Wayne said, referring to the overwhelmingly white bedroom community north of Omaha. “They're not talking about kids in western Nebraska.”

The other two Democrats who voted for the Constitutional Carry Bill are Mike McDonnell of District 5, in Omaha, and Matt Hansen of District 26, which is in the northeast quarter of Lincoln.

Senator Tom Brewer has been the driving force behind the bill. He has made it a legislative priority for his career. He is a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe.

Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon — the bill's conservative sponsor who has tried since 2017 to pass it — backed McKinney's comments, citing colonial American laws that criminalized arming Native Americans.

The banner in the Nebraska State Seal reads:


With 36 votes for cloture, prospects to pass Constitutional (permitless) Carry in 2023 are good. However, only three senators would be needed to switch their votes to kill the bill. That is what happened in 2022.

Nebraska is in a race to become the 26th member of the Constitutional (permitless) Carry club. Vermont has always had Constitutional Carry.  24 states have removed infringements on the rights protected by the Second Amendment to the point where no permission from the government is required to carry a loaded handgun in most public places, openly or concealed, for the vast majority of adults.

The Constitutional Carry club consists of:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Current prospects for Constitutional carry, in addition to Nebraska. are: South Carolina (passed the house), North Carolina, and Florida.


©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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Anonymous said...

Dean: One of my neighbors was recently arrested for exhibiting a weapon just out side of her home I though Arizona passed a law a couple of years ago that said exhibiting a weapon is not a crime. How do you carry a shotgun without it being exhibited? Apparently she is set for trial in La Paz County.

Anonymous said...

I think it was Miami Florida that passed a curfew for spring break because of a couple of shootings, I think it did not pass but really does any gun know what time of day it is so how will a curfew affect the use. Has any one considered how important it is to elect public officials that actually use their brain?