Gun owners oppose storage restrictions
March 18th, 2011
Lincoln, NE – A proposal aimed at requiring people to store guns so children could not get at them drew opposition from gun owners at a legislative hearing Thursday.
Omaha Senator Brad Ashford introduced the bill. It would make it a crime to store a loaded firearm or a firearm and its ammunition within reach or easy access of a juvenile who then used it to hurt or kill someone. It would also require retailers to include gun locks or trigger locks with all firearm sales.
Ashford said he didnâ€™t know if such a law would have prevented tragedies such as one in January, when a Millard South High School student took his fatherâ€™s gun and shot two administrators, one of whom died, before killing himself. But he said heâ€™s been introducing similar legislation since the 1980s.
One opponent asked if the father of the Millard South shooter, himself an Omaha police officer, hadnâ€™t already been punished enough by what happened. Ashford said the proposal is intended to send a message to gun owners that if they were going to leave their homes and had reason to expect young people to be around, â€œfor goodness sake lock that gun up.â€ And he said for that to enforce that message, some penalty is needed. One of the people who opposed the proposal was firearms instructor Chris Zeeb.
â€œOver and over we hear this argument when it comes to talking about laws, and it says, â€˜If we can save just one life why donâ€™t we pass this law,â€™ Zeeb said. â€œBut I find it funny that that argument is never used when weâ€™re talking about citizens defending themselves.â€
Other opponents argued that education, not legislation, was the solution, and that responsible gun owners already make sure that children donâ€™t have access to firearms. That wasnâ€™t enough for Omaha Senator Brenda Council.
â€œWe always hear â€˜Responsible gun owner, responsible gun owner, responsible gun owner, responsible gun owner,â€™â€ she said, â€œyet we have no enumerated responsibilities, other than once you take the training and get the permit.â€
The committee took no immediate action on the bill. No one has named it a priority, meaning that itâ€™s unlikely to be debated by the full Legislature this year, unless someone tries to amend it into another bill.
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