The Nebraska Examiner

Omaha Mayor Signs off on Council’s Gun Kit Ordinance, Gun Resolutions: Legal Challenges Likely, Experts Say

November 9, 2023

(The Nebraska Examiner)—Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has signed the new ordinance from City Councilman Pete Festersen banning possession of the kits used to build home-assembled handguns.

She also signed both gun-related resolutions adopted by the City Council. The measures were proposed in response to Legislative Bill 77, the state’s new law allowing permitless concealed carry.

That law also eliminated state-mandated training and aimed to eliminate independent home-rule charter authority in Omaha and Lincoln to enact stricter local gun ordinances.

Resolutions Signed, Too

One of the resolutions supported Stothert’s executive order limiting concealed handgun possession on city-owned and city-leased land as long as owners post signs prohibiting them. It passed 4-3.

The other resolution, supported even by gun-rights advocates who testified against the other proposals, encouraged people to voluntarily seek training in the safe use and storage of guns. It passed 7-0.

Stothert, the third-term Republican mayor of Nebraska’s largest city, said Wednesday the measures she signed “further our ability to reduce crime and promote responsible gun ownership.”

She added, “They provide law enforcement with additional provisions to help keep our citizens safe…. We will pursue steps on gun safety while not infringing on the rights of responsible gun owners.”

Police Backed Ordinance, Resolutions

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer testified on behalf of all three measures. He said he worked with Festersen on the gun-kit ordinance, which passed 4-3, and another, still under consideration, that would ban “bump stocks.”

Schmaderer and Festersen said they worried about an increasing number of “ghost guns,” which are ordered online and assembled at home, and which lack serial numbers. Schmaderer said the number of such weapons used in crimes has increased from two in 2019 to 61 this year, nearly half carried by teens.

Festersen said he was “pleased we successfully adopted common-sense measures that will enhance public safety and officer safety, and I’m confident we will also adopt a bump stock ban.”

Lawsuits Possible

Gun rights advocates, including members of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association, testified before the vote that the gun kit ordinance was impractical and likely to face a legal challenge.

One association member, Patricia Harrold, said similar executive orders limiting concealed handguns on public property by the Omaha and Lincoln mayors would also face court challenges.

Firearms owners said a ban on local sales of bump stocks would not be effective.

“We are going to challenge local regulations,” said Jacob Huebert, president of the Liberty Justice Center, a group gun rights groups asked to handle a potential lawsuit. “We are aware that Omaha and Lincoln are still restricting rights protected by state law.”

Groups seeking gun restrictions, including Moms Demand Action Nebraska, have applauded the local efforts and urged cities to act.

State Sen. Tom Brewer, the sponsor of LB 77, has said he expects both Omaha and Lincoln to lose in court if they are sued.

City attorneys in Omaha and Lincoln have argued that LB 77 gives them the authority to regulate concealed handguns on city-controlled property.