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Restriction on carrying guns in Omaha and Lincoln violate Nebraska law, lawsuits say

Dec 26, 2023, 2:40 AM

FILE - Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, center, speaks with supporters as she makes her rounds a...

FILE - Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, center, speaks with supporters as she makes her rounds around an election night party for Democrats, Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at the DelRay Ballroom in Lincoln, Nev. Two lawsuits allege that Nebraska’s two largest cities are violating a new state gun law by prohibiting them from public places such as parks. The Liberty Justice Center filed lawsuits Dec. 18 challenging executive orders issued by the mayors of Omaha and Lincoln. (Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star via AP, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star via AP, File)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska’s two largest cities are violating a new state gun law by prohibiting them from public places such as parks, according to two recent lawsuits.

The Liberty Justice Center filed lawsuits Dec. 18 challenging executive orders issued by the mayors of Omaha and Lincoln. The lawsuits allege that the orders are in violation of a new state gun law. The suits were filed on behalf of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association.

State lawmakers in April passed a bill allowing people to carry concealed guns across the state without a permit and without the need to complete a gun safety course. It also said that it overrides stricter local laws, like those in Omaha and Lincoln.

The lawsuits state that despite the new law, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird issued executive orders banning all firearms from city property, including parks and sidewalks. The suits said the Omaha City Council also banned “ghost gun” parts and manufacturing, and the Lincoln City Council has not repealed ordinances regulating weapons.

Jacob Huebert, president of the Liberty Justice Center, said the state law is direct: Local governments can’t regulate firearms.

“The mayors of Omaha and Lincoln have defied state law with their executive orders, and we look forward to seeing those orders and other city firearms regulations struck down,” Huebert said in a statement.

Yohance Christie, Lincoln’s city attorney, said in a statement that actions taken by the city “to protect the safety and quality of life of our residents and visitors are in compliance with the law.”

Omaha City Attorney Matt Kuhse told the Omaha World-Herald that the state law allows cities to prohibit concealed firearms “on the premises and places under its control with conspicuous notice.”

Kuhse said the city “will defend this lawsuit and defend the ability of municipalities, such as Omaha, to protect the safety and health of its citizens within the bounds of the law.”

The lawsuits were filed days after Nebraska Attorney General Michael Hilgers published an opinion stating that state law preempts executive orders from the mayors. The opinion also stated that the executive orders violate residents’ Second Amendment rights, and are in violation of the Nebraska Constitution.

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Restriction on carrying guns in Omaha and Lincoln violate Nebraska law, lawsuits say