Omaha Responds to NFOA Lawsuit with Halfhearted Change to City Ordinance
Omaha, NE –-(Ammoland.com)- A funny thing happened on the way to the courtroom, the City of Omaha blinked. They have proposed a major revision to their firearms ordinance which is available for download here. If you take the time to read this proposal you will see if falls way short of their stated goals and then creates several new legal issues for them.
We need as many members and readers as possible to attend the Omaha City Council hearing on October 18th to show that this proposal fails to protect lawful firearms owners rights.
Let's break this down, section by section, to review the problems in this proposal to better understand these failings.
In section one 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.
Section two continues the problem from section one by using the same language to allow persons with a Concealed Carry Permit to avoid registration. Again this issue has been preempted by the State and the city is in error.
In section three we find that, 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 ordinances. 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 raises the “Omaha Gun Tax” by 50%.
Also in section three appears to be an 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 replaces it with “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.
Section four adds Voluntary Registration for those with Concealed Carry permits to register their firearms for free. This creates a violation in equal protection since not everyone would be able to qualify for this exemption from paying the “tax.”
If this proposal was a serious attempt to reconcile differences between 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.” The rest of the State and the Nation definitines that as 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.
Unaddressed also is the unenforced requirement to get a permit from the Chief of Police to purchase a concealable firearm, where the rules for issuing such permit no longer exists; the State has taken over that responsibility and assigned that duty to the County Sheriff. Technically, no one may purchase a concealable firearm in Omaha since they cannot get a permission slip from the Chief of Police.
As you can see the problems with this proposal are as long or longer than the proposal itself and the NFOA needs your assistance in keeping this proposal from passing as written and introduced. If you can attend the hearing please do so., Please share this information and invitation to attend the public hearing with all your hunting and shooting buddies.
The more people there the louder our voice will be.