The Nebraska state legislature had proposed two bills. The first, LB-816, would require Nebraskans who wish to purchase a semi-automatic rifle or a shotgun to apply for a permit, including at gun shows, where it is currently legal for two private citizens to buy and sell long guns without state interference. It also would increase the waiting periods required to obtain handguns. The rationale given for this measure was to reduce the risk of suicide. Similar “red flag” laws have already been enacted in many other states.
The second, LB-58, would create Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) in Nebraska. A committee would be empowered to issue an ERPO, or “red flag,” against anyone who has been convicted of domestic violence or who has a protection order against him – without due process. Once receiving an ERPO, a Nebraskan could not purchase or own any firearm. LB-58 would also grant law enforcement the power to search such individuals’ homes and seize any weapons that were found – thus giving the authorities the right to search private residences. This bill would greatly increase the state’s ability to arbitrarily decide who can and cannot own firearms.
Approximately four hundred pro-gun rights protesters descended on the State Capitol on February 21, when an open hearing was held to allow Nebraskans to address the state legislature regarding their concerns. One of the organizers of the protest, David Pringle, General Manager of DE Guns in Lincoln, Nebraska, spoke against LB-58, questioning why there was a need for a new law banning the mentally ill from purchasing firearms when there already is such a law on the books. He added that gun owners need to deal with mental health issues in their community themselves, and endorsed the work of Walk the Talk America, a non-profit which is working to develop suicide prevention programs for gun owners and reduce prejudices that exist in society about mental illness and firearms.
Protesters heckled Mr. Pringle due to his past association with the National Alliance, a white nationalist organization. When asked by a State Senator to address the issue, Pringle explained, “I love my race more than any other race, just like I love my family more than any other family, and my children more than any other children. I don’t hate races that aren’t my own, I don’t hate families that aren’t my own, and I don’t hate children that aren’t my own. What happens is that I am the recipient of hate. . . . This kind of toxic culture war that’s being waged against us through the media and through the antis is what divides us.”
The legislature ended up tabling the bills for the time being, meaning that no action will be taken on them in the near future.