LINCOLN — City officials across Nebraska were reviewing their options Wednesday in light of an attorney general's opinion that said state law trumps local ordinances banning the carrying of concealed weapons.
Lynn Rex, executive director of the League of Nebraska Municipalities, said one possibility might be to seek legislation yet this year.
"We are still in the process of assessing the opinion," she said.
Rex said the opinion will be a major concern for the communities that have set tighter restrictions on where holders of permits may carry concealed handguns. She said the state law would not have passed had it not allowed a local option.
Local concealed weapons ordinances were believed to be allowed under a state law that lists the authority granted to cities and towns.
But in the opinion, Attorney General Jon Bruning's office quoted portions of the concealed carry law that say a permit is "valid throughout the state" and that "a permitholder may carry a concealed handgun anywhere in Nebraska" with certain exceptions.
The concealed carry law does not explicitly allow local bans, according to the opinion. Without such express permission, state law would predominate.
State Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial, who sought the opinion, said he did so because he was tired of battling legislatively to force cities and towns to repeal local bans. He tried and failed to get such legislation in 2007.
Now he believes that cities and towns with local concealed weapons ordinances will have to change their laws or risk being sued.
Of course, getting anti-gun mayors, city managers and police chiefs to obey the law on their own is another story:
KEARNEY — Hub Territory cities can continue to ban the carrying of concealed weapons despite the Nebraska attorney general’s opinion.
Attorney General Jon Bruning announced an opinion Wednesday that a conceal-carry law passed in 2006 applies to all communities, despite clauses that allowed cities local control.
Lexington City Manager Joe Pepplitsch said until he hears differently, he will assume that Lexington’s ban remains in effect.
“An attorney general’s opinion has no legal effect. There’s a lot of questions about it, but we’ll probably take no action,” Pepplitsch said. “We have an ordinance prohibiting concealed weapons, and it doesn’t pre-empt any other laws, so for us it’s a nonissue. We’re not taking any action on it.”