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Liberty1
05-12-2010, 9:18 AM
http://www.omaha.com/article/20100429/NEWS01/704299833


Published Thursday April 29, 2010

Should gun permits be easier?

By Paul Hammel
WORLD-HERALD BUREAU


LINCOLN - A citizen's fatal shooting of a would-be robber in Omaha has sparked a debate over whether Nebraska should join three other states and do away with training and permit requirements to carry concealed handguns.

Harry J. McCullough III, a 32-year-old drugstore customer, shot one robber who was holding a sawed-off shotgun and apprehended another.

McCullough did not possess a state permit to carry a concealed handgun. He probably would be ineligible for such a permit because of his 1997 misdemeanor conviction for carrying a concealed weapon.

Many credit the actions of the former security guard with preventing the robbery and injury to others Monday night in a Walgreens store in the Benson neighborhood. McCullough drew his .40-caliber pistol and fired eight shots. Four struck the robber.

“This is a perfect example of why the good guys should have guns and the bad guys shouldn't,” said attorney James Martin Davis, who is representing McCullough.

State Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial said Wednesday that he would favor Nebraska's joining Arizona, Vermont and Alaska in waiving all requirements except the criminal background check to carry concealed weapons.

That way, more people would carry concealed guns, the rural lawmaker said.

“Why give criminals the edge?” Christensen said. “Police do a great job, but we can't afford enough to have them everywhere.”

Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha said he would be open to looking at a law change. Two other Omaha lawmakers said public safety would be jeopardized by eliminating the state-required gun safety course.

Sen. Brenda Council, whose north Omaha district is plagued by gun crime, said doing away with the training requirements would only increase the danger to the general public.

“I'm always concerned about citizens acting as law enforcement,” Council said. “People who carry weapons like that are more inclined to place a lot of people in danger.”

It is essential that citizens be well-trained before being allowed to carry concealed guns, said Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha.

“You don't want to create a firefight in a situation when people are shooting each other and they don't know what they're doing,” Ashford said.

McCullough had received some training in carrying a handgun because he had obtained a City of Omaha permit to openly carry a loaded firearm.

Such “open-carry” permits, which cost $105, are sought mostly by security guards who need the permits for their jobs, said a spokeswoman with the National Safety Council of Greater Omaha, which offers the gun-training courses.

The city ordinance has been around for at least 15 years. Eight hours of classroom instruction, followed by two hours at a gun range, are required. The training requirements are the same for obtaining a state concealed weapons permit.

The Safety Council spokeswoman was unable to say when McCullough was trained because she could not access the council's entire computer database, but McCullough renewed his permit it requires a criminal background check in 2006 and in 2009.

“He knew what he was doing,” said Davis, McCullough's attorney.

A person who has been convicted of misdemeanor charge of illegal possession of a concealed weapon as McCullough was in 1997 would be ineligible for a concealed weapons permit, said Deb Collins, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska State Patrol.

Council, the state senator, opposes letting citizens carrying concealed weapons, pointing to a recent incident at an Omaha restaurant in which several people were injured by shrapnel when a handgun, pulled out by a trained permit holder, went off accidentally.

Omaha City Prosecutor Marty Conboy said it might be a week or longer before his office decides whether to formally charge McCullough for failing to have a concealed weapons permit.

Conboy said witnesses would be required to prove that McCullough “completely concealed” his gun. The city attorney said his office also must decide whether to prosecute, given the outcome of the incident.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has said that McCullough was justified in using deadly force and that he would not prosecute him for the fatal shooting of Marquail Thomas, 18, who was holding a sawed-off shotgun that, it turned out, wasn't loaded.

Davis plans to fight McCullough's misdemeanor ticket.

“You can't punish a guy for doing what he did,” Davis said. “He averted a robbery and prevented people from getting wounded and killed.”

Ashford, who heads the Legislature's Judiciary Committee, said state laws concerning citizens' rights to defend themselves with guns need to be clarified. That issue will be explored by the committee this summer and fall.

Ashford said he wants to expand the study to include gang-related shootings in Omaha.

“We're living in an incredibly violent time,” he said. “I think public policy is behind in dealing with it.”

Christensen, the lawmaker from Imperial, introduced a bill in the past legislative session to clarify citizens' gun rights. It included a clause that would have barred people like McCullough from facing civil lawsuits for taking lawful actions to defend themselves from threats of death or violence.

The bill was killed in the Judiciary Committee but led to a planned interim study of the issue.

An official of the National Rifle Association, which backed the Christensen proposal, said the organization is hoping to persuade other states to follow the lead of Arizona, which passed a law this spring to do away with the training and permit needed to carry concealed weapons.

Arizonans would still have to pass a federal criminal background check to buy guns, said Scott Stevens, a legislative aide with the NRA.

“It definitely makes it a lot easier for law-abiding citizens to just buy a gun and not worry about the permit process,” Stevens said.

Christensen said “common sense” would dictate that people obtaining handguns to carry would obtain or have the proper safety training.

Window_Seat
05-12-2010, 11:52 AM
If Nebraska passed a CC bill, I would now begin to have a choice on where to live. It's funny that this should come out just as I was looking at houses (online) in North Platte. The great thing about being in the trucking industry is that I can live ANYWHERE in this absolutely awesome nation we live in.:thumbsup:

Erik.

Big E
05-12-2010, 12:51 PM
:mad: Just reminds me how screwed up we are here in CA :mad:

Glock22Fan
05-12-2010, 1:08 PM
Sen. Brenda Council, whose north Omaha district is plagued by gun crime, said doing away with the training requirements would only increase the danger to the general public.

Council, the state senator, opposes letting citizens carrying concealed weapons, pointing to a recent incident at an Omaha restaurant in which several people were injured by shrapnel when a handgun, pulled out by a trained permit holder, went off accidentally.

Well, as I've said in other threads, training does not fix stupid.

Flopper
05-12-2010, 3:31 PM
If Nebraska passed a CC bill. . .

Huh?

Nebraska has had Shall Issue since about 2006 or so.

Window_Seat
05-12-2010, 6:14 PM
Huh?

Nebraska has had Shall Issue since about 2006 or so.

"CC"= Constitutional Carry, meaning "carry concealed or openly without a permit".

Alaska, Arizona & Vermont has this in place. If NE does it, they will be the 4th to have CC.:thumbsup:

Erik.