The United States Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. The first sentence of Article I of the Nebraska Constitution reasserts this right: “The right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes...shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof.”

Over the past few years, my team has worked to safeguard your rights. For example, we have created an online process to renew, update, or replace a handgun permit, saving gun owners across the state valuable time. In 2018, I signed LB 902, a bill brought by Sen. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard, which protects the identities of gun owners with concealed carry permits. And when the National Rifle Association (NRA) was under attack, we invited them to Nebraska because the people of our state understand the importance of the Second Amendment.

In addition to protecting the right to bear arms for self-defense, we have worked to position Nebraska as an ideal destination for hunting, offering some of the best turkey and pheasant hunting in the country. Nebraskans shoot clay for recreation. Ranchers across the state carry firearms to protect livestock from predators and to ward off pests that can devastate pastures. Nebraskans also hunt wild game to put food on the table. For these reasons, gun ownership isn’t just an abstract right in our state. It’s a practical, well-established part of everyday life for tens of thousands of Nebraskans.

Hunter education through the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission makes sure teens and young adults know how to safely and responsibly handle a firearm. The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) provides handgun training so that residents know how to property hold, load, lock, and fire a gun. The NSP also educates citizens on federal and state gun regulations. These efforts, together with the work done by parents and volunteers around the state, have built a culture of gun safety in Nebraska. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranks Nebraska ninth-lowest among states in our per capita rate of gun violence (firearm mortality).

While Nebraska has a long tradition of protecting Second Amendment rights, it’s important to be vigilant against legislative attempts to erode them. LB 58, a bill currently under consideration by the Legislature, would infringe on your right to bear arms in Nebraska. The so-called “Red Flag Law” would permit household members or law enforcement to go before a court to “flag” someone as unfit to have a firearm. Based on this allegation, the court could then order a search of the property of law-abiding citizens and the seizure of any guns found. The court order would also prevent the “flagged” person from purchasing a firearm. Under LB 58, all of this could take place prior to the accused persons having the opportunity to defend themselves in court! This is a clear violation of due process rights under the guise of public safety. LB 58 would create a judicial weapon for anti-gun activists who wish to roll back the gun rights enshrined in both our federal and state constitutions.

As the tragic rise of knife attacks and fatal stabbings in the United Kingdom, Japan, and other countries demonstrate, violence is not due to guns. As a society, we together must confront the root causes of violence, one of which is substance abuse.

To this end, the State of Nebraska has made significant investments to prevent and treat addiction. Last summer, Nebraska became the first state to allocate federal funding to train medical experts to combat addiction. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services launched an addiction medicine fellowship in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. It addresses substance use disorders, including illicit drug addiction and also the larger public health issues of alcohol abuse and binge drinking. We’re committed to reducing opioid misuse and other addictions that can lead to violence.

Protecting the Second Amendment rights of Nebraskans and battling addiction is key to keeping people safe in our homes, schools, and businesses. I hope you will contact your State Senator and let them know you oppose LB 58. You can find their information at www.NebraskaLegislature.gov. If you have ideas of how to enhance public safety in Nebraska, I invite you to share them with me by email at pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or by calling 402-471-2244. My administration will continue its diligent efforts to protect public safety and will oppose legislation that tramples on your constitutional rights.

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