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

OMAHA, Neb.– Nebraska's two largest cities are violating a new gun law by banning them from entering public places such as parks, according to two recent lawsuits.

The Liberty Justice Center filed lawsuits on Dec. 18 challenging executive orders from the mayors of Omaha and Lincoln. The lawsuits allege the orders violate a new gun law. The lawsuits were filed on behalf of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association.

State lawmakers passed a law in April that allows people to carry concealed weapons across the state without a permit and without having to take a gun safety course. It also said it is overriding stricter local laws such as those in Omaha and Lincoln.

The lawsuits allege 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 lawsuits stated that the Omaha City Council also banned parts and production of “ghost guns,” and that the Lincoln City Council has not repealed ordinances regulating guns.

Jacob Huebert, president of the Liberty Justice Center, said state law is direct: Local governments cannot 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 gun regulations struck down,” Huebert said in a statement.

Yohance Christie, Lincoln's city attorney, said in a statement that the actions the city is taking “to protect the safety and quality of life of our residents and visitors are consistent with the law.”

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

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

The lawsuits were filed days after Nebraska Attorney General Michael Hilgers published an opinion stating that state law precludes mayors' executive orders. The opinion also stated that the executive orders violate residents' Second Amendment rights and violate the Nebraska Constitution.