The right to keep and bear arms is under attack from both the Biden administration and Democrat-run cities across the nation. The states, however, are stepping up to defend the Second Amendment – and lawmakers in both Nebraska and Ohio are currently pushing back against the onslaught. Yes, several of the bluest states in the Union continue to push strict gun control, but as of September of this year, 27 out of 50 have enacted what’s colloquially being called “Constitutional Carry” – the legally protected right for residents to go about armed without a permit.
Ohio: A Second Amendment Sanctuary in the Works
The Buckeye State may be well on its way to becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary. House Bill 51, titled the Second Amendment Preservation Act, would implement a “civil penalty” for any state employee or agent who “enforces, attempts to enforce, or participates in any way in the enforcement or implementation of any federal acts, laws, executive orders, rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances regarding firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition.”
Much like a similar law passed in Arkansas a couple of years ago, this measure would prevent law enforcement in Ohio from enforcing – or even calling in the feds to enforce – federal firearms regulations. Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, a Republican, says he’s confident the bill will clear the House.
“This Second Amendment Preservation Act protects one of our most fundamental rights as citizens,” state Rep. Mike Loychick – also a Republican – explained to reporters. “This bill allows Ohio’s law enforcement to carry out Ohio’s laws when it comes to owning guns, ammunition, and accessories. If any of these protections are violated, the bill permits an Ohioan to sue agencies whose employees have violated the Act.” It’s unclear when the Act might be voted on, but its passage seems quite safe, given the numbers. It is, however, almost certain to face legal challenges from the Biden administration, just as the Arkansas law has.
Con Carry for Cornhuskers Is Statewide
The city of Omaha – led by a technically “non-partisan” council made up of mostly registered Democrats – is working on a slew of what councilors call “common sense” gun control measures, teeing up a legal battle that’s likely to be decided by the Nebraska Supreme Court. Some of these measures are already approved by the council – and even signed by the city’s Republican mayor, Jean Stothert, like the new ordinance banning possession of firearm build kits.
One resolution was unanimously approved, even by the gun-rights advocates on the council, but that merely expressed that people should – on a voluntary basis – seek training in safe firearm use and storage. The more divisive measures, like banning build kits and prohibiting concealed handgun possession on city-owned and leased land, passed 4-3. And, yes, the ideological split on the “non-partisan” council is four Democrats to three Republicans.
These gun control measures came in response to Nebraska’s Legislative Bill (LB) 77 – the new law allowing permitless carry across the state – which went into effect September 2. Top city officials claim this makes it more dangerous in Omaha, and they say these measures are both necessary to protect the people and compliant with LB 77. A state memo obtained by News Channel Nebraska, however, suggests otherwise.
Omaha City Council targeted three primary issues: ghost guns (firearms without serial numbers), bump stocks (accessories that help people fire semi-automatic rifles faster), and the possession of a firearm in parks or buildings owned or leased by the city. According to the memo, the ghost gun bit violates LB 77 because it also outlaws “the private hobbyist manufacture of firearms,” and a bump-stock ban would violate the “state preemption provisions” of the law.
The council can prohibit the carrying of weapons on city property because “property owners do have the legal right to forbid the carrying of concealed weapons on their property.” However, that’s only if every public entrance displays “conspicuous signage.”
State Sen. Mike McDonell – a Democrat who voted for the new concealed carry law – cautioned the city council to at least consult with the state attorney general before potentially “putting taxpayer dollars at risk with a drawn-out court fight.” Pete Festersen, however, the council president and sponsor of much of this gun control, disregarded the advice. “The city attorney is our attorney, and he’s of the opinion that these can be done and can comply with LB 77,” he replied. “I do respect the attorney general, but he is not our attorney.”
The Fierce Battle Ahead
It remains to be seen how an Ohio vote or Nebraska Supreme Court case would turn out – but given the demographics, an educated guess probably isn’t too hard. Six of the seven judges currently serving the highest court in Nebraska were appointed by Republican governors. The GOP controls massive majorities in both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly – 26-7 in the Senate and 66-32 in the House – and they’ve held both chambers, with only just two exceptions in the House, for more than 30 years.
Both states, in fact, have Republican governors and majorities in the legislature, and both easily passed their respective constitutional carry bills. The Ohio law, which went into effect June 13, 2022, passed 49-20 in the House and 24-9 in the Senate. Nebraska’s LB 77 cleared the state’s unicameral Senate 36-12. Each state undoubtedly faces a fierce battle ahead – but the Second Amendment advocacy is strong in both.