Changes to Omaha’s Firearms Laws Continue to Missfire
Omaha, NE –-(Ammoland.com)- Andreas Allen, President of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association (NFOA), discusses the proposed changes to Omaha's Firearms Ordinances.
Last Tuesday the Omaha City Council proposed an ordinance change brought forth by the Omaha Police Department (OPD) and the Mayor’s office.
The City claims they have been working on this proposal for five months and that it has nothing to do with the recent lawsuit the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association (NFOA) has filed in partnership with the Second Amendment Foundation and Armando Pliego Gonzalez concerning legal resident aliens.
After reading this proposal, however, it’s apparent that it was put together hastily and was done very poorly. Not only did the City try to change the current rule prohibiting legal resident aliens from handgun registration, the new proposal also offers numerous restrictive changes to Omaha’s firearm registration ordinance.
According to a letter dated September 30, 2011, OPD and the Mayor’s office claim the purpose of this proposal is “to make the City ordinances consistent with State and Federal laws.” Yet, in two separate sections the proposal adds the language: “the owner, possessor or transporter holds a valid permit issued by the State of NE.” This statement fails the City’s stated purpose.
Language in the Nebraska Concealed Handgun Act already recognizes permits issued by other states; Omaha’s proposed language fails to do so. Moreover, this added text is unnecessary because four years ago the City voted to allow persons in compliance with State law to carry in the City.
Contrary to claims by some City Council members, this new proposal is not relaxing any current laws. In fact, another proposed change actually doubles the amount of time a person would not be allowed to register a concealable firearm if they previously had a violation of Omaha’s firearm registration ordinance. Additionally, the proposal goes well beyond State and Federal law and adds more misdemeanors to the City’s list that would disqualify people from being able to register firearms.
Another change in the proposal, also out of line with State and Federal laws, raises the “Omaha Gun Tax” by 50%.
The next problem with the proposal is the attempt to dismiss the current Federal lawsuit against the City. The City’s firearm registration ordinance prohibits certain people from registering firearms. The current proposal removes the ordinance’s existing line, “Is not a citizen of the United States,” and proposes in its place, “Is an alien not lawfully admitted under a non-immigrant visa (illegal alien).” If this seems hard to read, that’s because it contains a double negative. The courts will handle this statement the same way your 5th grade English teacher would: by removing the negatives. So then it will read, “Is an alien lawfully admitted under an immigrant visa (illegal alien).”
Due to poor grammar, this revision still prohibits legal resident aliens from registering firearms and fails to address the issue in the current lawsuit when read as it is actually written.
If this proposal was a serious attempt to reconcile differences in City, State, and Federal law, then the City should have started with their definition of a “Concealable Firearm.” In Omaha, the definition is “a firearm having a barrel less than 18 inches in length.” In the rest of the State and the Nation, the definition is a firearm having a barrel less than 16 inches and designed to be operated with one hand.
This simple difference in definition places many commonly owned 16-inch barrel rifles in Omaha into the category of a “Concealable Firearm.” Even though the Omaha Police Department does not register these rifles, a resident in possession of one of these common target or sporting rifles could be charged in violation of Omaha's registration requirements.
There are changes needed in Omaha’s firearm registration ordinance, especially with respect to the current lawsuit regarding legal resident aliens, but the City’s current proposal does not accomplish this or their stated purpose. If the City of Omaha decides they truly want “to make the City ordinances consistent with State and Federal laws,” then the NFOA is willing to assist the City in fixing the inconsistencies in Omaha's firearms ordinances.
Nebraska Firearms Owners Association is the largest firearms rights organization in the state of Nebraska, and membership is free for all Nebraskans concerned with their right to keep and bear arms; simply sign-up at www.nebraskafirearms.org/join. We are local firearms owners who have a personal interest in protecting firearms owners’ rights in Nebraska.
Nebraska Firearms Owners Association (NFOA) is organized for the purpose of voicing the opinion of its membership to the Nebraska Legislature and other law making bodies within the state as well as Federal level, as it pertains to firearms. NFOA members will also make it a priority to educate residents on firearms related issues.
On the web: www.NebraskaFirearms.org or email: [email protected] for more information.
Andreas (Andy) Allen
P.O. BOX 419
Syracuse, Nebraska 68446