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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 5, 1999)
GREGG. STEARNS is a
junior English major and
the Daily Nebraskan online
Guns can help
protect lives of
ing citizens, not psychotic criminals with itchy
OK readers, picture this: You’re walking
home from the grocery store late at night
Someone steps out from behind a tree, pills a
pistol from his jacket and robs you. He shoots'
you in the leg, so you can’t find help before he
Boy, it’s too bad for you. He had a gun and
you didn’t Even if you did have a gun, it’s most
ly illegal in Nebraska to carry a concealed
But all that is going to change. 3
Having LB476 pass will actually lower cer
tain types of crime. John Lott discusses die low
ering of crime rates in his book “More Guns,
According to Lott, “For each additional year
that a concealed-handgun law is in effect, the
murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 per
cent and robberies by over 2 percent” Call me
crazy, but isn’t lowering the number of minders
and rapes a good thing?
So, 3 percent of Lincoln’s
You see, the Nebraska Legislature is cui
rently working on passing bill LB476 that
would allow Nebraska residents to carry a
concealed weapon. j
Of course, getting a Carry Conceal J
Weapoiv(CCW) permit isn’t as easy as it I
might sound. First of all, Nebraska -■* ; , I
requires potential handgun purchasers to
submit to a criminal background check to
obtain a permit to purchase a handgun.
This background check can take up to five
days, which prevents “crimes of passion” fit
being instantly committed.
When actually purchasing the gun, there is
now a nationwide FBI background search done
at the time of purchase. Certain misdemeanors,
such as drug possession, dishonorable dis
charges from the military and most felonies
make a person ineligible to purchase a handgun
After you finally get a handgun, you have go
through the process of getting the CCW permit
Some states are very lenient They require a
mere background check and a fee. Others have
very rigorous shooting and accuracy tests one
must nass before netting a CCW
LB476 will require criminal and mental
health background checks, along with a gun
I’m sure many ofyOu think the idea of carry
ing a concealed handgun is outrageous - after
all, this is backwoods Nebraska, right? Who
needs to really defend themselves from attack
ers? Well, here’s a little bit of information for
you to digest
First of all, a vast number of criminals have
guns, we all know that, and oftentimes they’ll
carry their weapons concealed. Thus, the law
abiding citizen never knows if that guy follow
ing them is dangerous or not.
Now turn the tables. What if it was the bad
guys who didn’t know which citizen was carry
ing a semi-automatic handgun with a full clip of
hollow points? If you were on the dark side of
the law, wouldn’t you start thinking twice about
who you attacked if the chance of getting injured
or killed was increased? *
Professor John Lott Jr. is one Of the leading
researchers on crime control. He spent 18 years
collecting data from all the counties in all the
United States on the relationship between hand
gun laws, including carry-conceal laws, and FBI
crime rates. These are some of his findings:
■ vme i actor in crime prevention is the local
arrest and conviction rate.
■ Another major factor is the ability of the
criminal to tell who is or is not armed.
H Potential victims who use firearms to
defend themselves are statistically less likely to
be injured in an attack.
Another very important fact to point out is
that suicide and accidental death from gun use
doesn’t increase when there are carry-conceal
laws. Also, the idea that crimes of passion will
increase is unfounded. Think about it - if your
loved one makes you so upset you want to kill
him or her, is breaking a concealed-weapon law
the first thing on your mind? »
The criminal and mental health background
check is part of the CCW application process to
keep mentally unstable people and those with
violent tendencies from having a concealed
weapon. I would like to point out that in
Nebraska you must submit to a background
check before you can even get your permit to
purchase a handgun, plus a new FBI background
check when you actually purchase a gun.
The main point of LB476 is to allow law
abiding citizens to carry a concealed weapon for
defense purposes. The bill won’t help out the
criminals one bit
According to the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms, there are between 65 and
70 million handguns in the United States. That’s
less than 0.4 percent of those which are used to
commit a crime. This means that the vast majori
ty of handguns are in the possession of law-abid
TIM SULLIVAN is a third
year law student and a Daily
Have you ever felt like going “postal”?
You know what I mean - pretending like
you’re Rambo and shooting everyone and every
thing that moves because, well, just because.
People are creatures at the whim of their
mental and emotional state of mind. We experi
ence all kinds of emotions - love, grief, sorrow,
happiness and, of course, anger.
When people get angry, they don’t always use
their best judgment. In fact, they often make
decisions that are detrimental not only to their
Rage can become
guns are involved
They’ll talk about how everyone is complete
ly baffled by what happened, because no one ever
imagined that you could do something like that.
They’ll note that you applied for and received
a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
As of today, Nebraska is one of only seven
states that have not passed some sort of con
cealed-weapon legislation. But unfortunately, we
have state senators like Ray Janssen, a former
farmer and current owner of a meat market.
Our butcher friend Sen. Janssen introduced
LB476, legislation that, when passed and signed
into law by the ultra-conservative Republican
Gov. Mike Johanns, will allow Nebraskans who
have resided here for at least one year and who
pass a criminal background check to carry con
There’s a whole bunch of other hurdles to
obtaining the license, but in my judgment,
they’re largely ineffective. For example, if you’ve
fulfilled any sentence for any offense involving
violence or threats of violence tliree or more
years before applying for the license, those con
victions don’t matter. You get the license.
Just to clarify, I’m not referring to felonies
who would have been killed. Saving a few
lives each year seems like a good idea to
me. As far as rape goes,
all rapists should be
Lot. ’• 1 Wf’Pili’ 'll
also explains how w: \\ ||
crime de-localizes itself \
when carry-conceal laws are in place.
Criminals will move out of a “bad neighbor
hood” because of die fear of being shot at by
What it all comes down to is that a carry
conceal law would be effective in deterring vio
lent crime to some degree, while offering peace
of mind for those citizens who live or work in a
not-so-nice part of town.
The state and FBI would have more knowl
edge on handgun ownership and CCW permits,
thus being able to regulate things better. The
background checks would keep die wrong peo
ple from legally attaining a handgun and CCW
permit, and the gun safety course would inform
people of the way to use a gun.
Now to answer that question I’m sure you’re
asking, yes, I own a handgun. No, I don’t carry it
around with me. I only bought it for target shoot
ing. Yes, I would get a CCW permit and finally,
no, I wouldn’t carry it around with me 24-7.
I would, however, like to be able to legally
carry it if the need surfaced.
Sometimes anger turns to pure rage. When
someone is in a state of rage, rational thought
ght out the window.
11 of us have heard a lot about road
People get frustrated with all the
-* stupid things other drivers do,
(get angry and then their
anger turns to rage. This rage
leads them to start yelling
I and making obscene gestures
at other drivers before initiat
ing their own little demolition
derby, chasing the other dri
ver down, ramming that per
I 'son’s car, then jumping out
I. and beating the crap out of
I Sometimes angry drivers
| pull out guns and shoot other
| People get angry and
I frustrate! just dealing with
jsj everyday ordinary life.
| Sometimes a rude clerk at a
| convenience store is
f enough to prompt some
A people to start screaming at
I the clerk, demanding ser
■. vice now, then tearing out of
[ the parking lots, tires
We all get angry and frus
trated sometimes. And I don’t
think there’s a single one of us
who can deny ever having felt pure,
V ’ blinding, irrational rage.
™ Maybe you have felt like going postal.
Perhaps that feeling manifested itself into con
scious deliberation. After you started thinking
about it, did you imagine in your mind how the
scene would play out?
How would you feel?
Did you envision yourself being riddled with
bullets by a police SWAT team after you finished
massacring all the innocent people that somehow
offended you or got in your way that day?
If you thought that far ahead, maybe you
thought about the ensuing media attention - you
know, the way the media would dissect your life,
trying to explain why someone who, at least up
to the last minute, had been a reasonably law
They ’ll talk about how you paid your bills on
time, had a good job and a family who loved you.
They’ll say you were never in trouble with the
law, your friends and neighbors all thought you
were an excellent person, and no one could ever
imagine you hurting someone.
They might say that you had never been
incarcerated or received treatment in a mental
years, you’re eligible for a concealed-handgun
license. (Did you hear that, O.J.?)
If you have not been committed to a mental
institution as a result of the use of controlled sub
stances or abuse of alcohol in the last three years, _
you’re eligible for a license.
If you’ve had no second or subsequent
offense DUIs in the last three years, you get a
license. If you’ve had no conviction under the
Uniform Controlled Substances Act in the last
three years, again, you get a license.
Here’s the most amazing one of all: If you
were found not responsible or not guilty by rea
son of insanity, have been discharged from the
mental institution for five years or more, have
been unconditionally released from further court
ordered treatment, and not been judged incompe
tent, well, you know. You get a license.
The kicker is that the Department of Health
& Human Services, charged with maintaining
the database of mental health commitments for
the purposes of the Concealed Handgun License
Act, is not required to keep records on those peo
ple found not responsible or not guilty by reason
of insanity in their database for more than five
Listen to this one: The bill says you can have
a license if you don’t use alcohol or other sub
stances to the extent that your normal faculties
are impaired on a chronic or habitual basis. I low
the hell are they going to know that, unless you
ocii. ivay j oilmen id a uuMy-iuuMiiu, i;u v,
who looks a little like John Wayne. Maybe that
explain? why he wants to be able to “John
Wayne” it in dangerous situations better left to
But forget about Sen. Janssen for a moment -
he’s ju?t one of the gun guys. The pundits are pre
dicting the bill has plenty of votes to pass. Tliat
means there are plenty of other fools occupying
seats in the Unicameral.
The Unicameral considered similar legisla
tion last year. They declined to pass it then, and I
thought they demonstrated that they were more
intelligent than the forty or so other state legisla
tures that had passed such legislation at the time.
Look, folks. Even if no one who slips
through one of the “loopholes” I’ve walked you
through offs somebody with a concealed hand
gun, somebody will. The proponents of this leg
islation are arguing that die number of crimes
committed by registered gun users is so small
that it’s inconsequential. They will also tell you
the likelihood of someone licensed to carry a
concealed weapon going postal is so remote that
it doesn’t matter.
But it will happen. And in my opinion, if
even one person is killed by a concealed weapon
licensee in a fit of rage, that’s one too many.
Somebody’s going to go postal. I hope it’s not
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