City of Lincoln
2006 Media Releases
Officers in the Lincoln Police Union today announced their support for Mayor Coleen J. Seng’s proposal to prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons within Lincoln’s city limits. The Mayor introduced the local ban on concealed weapons June 26. The City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the ordinance for its July 31st meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m.
Last spring, the State Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law a bill that will allow people to carry concealed weapons in Nebraska beginning January 1, 2007. A separate existing State law gives cities, including Lincoln, the power to prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons. Omaha already has an existing ban on carrying concealed weapons.
“I support the constitutional right of citizens to own weapons, but we must listen to those on the front lines -- the law enforcement professionals who risk their lives to keep our community safe,” said Mayor Seng. “Local officers overwhelmingly agree that more guns will not make Lincoln safer and will actually increase risks to both citizens and police officers.”
Lincoln Police Sergeant Jim Davidsaver researched the issue of concealed weapons as part of his course work to earn a master’s degree at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Five years ago, he surveyed all Lincoln Police Officers on the topic, and 173 responded. Nearly 85 percent disagreed with the statement that Lincoln citizens should be allowed to obtain permits to carry concealed firearms. More than 88 percent disagreed with the statement that allowing citizens to lawfully carry concealed firearms would deter crime in Lincoln. In focus group discussions, experienced officers said allowing concealed weapons may result in criminals arming themselves when they otherwise would not. Sgt. Davidsaver’s conclusion was that the potential costs of concealed weapons outweigh the potential benefits, and the State law is adequate.
Police Chief Tom Casady said he supports his officers and agrees that a law allowing concealed weapons is not needed in Lincoln. “If a person’s occupation or actions justify the need for a concealed weapon, current State law already provides for an affirmative defense against criminal charges,” he said. “If concealed carry is such a great idea, you have to wonder why our State Senators excluded concealed handguns from athletic events, financial institutions, political fund-raisers and their own chambers.”
Under the new State law, Nebraskans will be able to obtain a permit for a fee of $100 after they complete firearms training and are cleared by a background check. But the Mayor and Casady say the new State law has many loopholes, such as allowing individuals to obtain permits even if they have been convicted of serious misdemeanors, including stalking, violating a protection order, impersonating a peace officer and indecent exposure.
“Rolling back an odometer is a felony, but violating a protection order is not,” said Casady. “This is just one example of the gaping loopholes in the State law I can’t support something that results in this kind of bizarre and dangerous outcome.”
Casady said other states have experienced problems with allowing concealed weapons:
Casady said citizens don’t hear more about such problems because many State concealed weapons laws, including Nebraska’s, do not allow law enforcement to reveal the fact that an offender has a concealed weapons permit. And he said there is no solid evidence that allowing concealed weapons has an impact on crime rates.
“Violent crime in Nebraska fell 35 percent from 1999 to 2004 without allowing concealed weapons,” said Casady. “Crime has dropped almost everywhere in the nation since the early 1990s. If concealed weapon advocates want to take credit for falling crime rates, how are these proponents explaining the increase in violent crime in the U.S. last year?”