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Nebraska Legislature Passes Handgun Bill

June 6, 1991

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska’s Legislature on Wednesday passed a gun-control bill that requires buyers to obtain a certificate from authorities before they can purchase a handgun.

Forged as a compromise and an alternative to possible stricter federal regulations, the bill passed the unicameral body on a 34-11 vote.

The three-year certificate, which the local police or sheriff’s department would issue after making a background check within two days, would allow a person to buy one or more handguns while it’s valid.

Sarah Brady, wife of former White House Press Secretary Jim Brady, visited Lincoln twice last year to lobby on bill sponsor Brad Ashford’s behalf. Brady was wounded in the March 30, 1981, attack on President Reagan.

″Rural America has spoken and it expressed support for gun control,″ said Mrs. Brady. ″I hope that our senators in Washington will realize that Nebraskans speak for all Americans who want sensible gun laws.″

Previously, Nebraska had no handgun control law; Omaha has a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases.

Ashford, who originally sought a law similar to the so-called Brady bill pending in Congress, said he thought the Nebraska bill was more comprehensive.

The Brady bill, named after the former presidential spokesman, would require a seven-day waiting period and would be imposed on states that lack their own gun control law.

The Nebraska bill passed after Ashford and Sen. Stan Schellpeper reached a compromise helped by state Sen. Jerry Chizek, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and an avid sportsman.

Chizek acted as a mediator between factions favoring Ashford’s waiting period and a Schellpeper proposal for an instant background check. The latter had the National Rifle Association’s support.

David Weaver of Handgun Control Inc., the Washington-based group lobbying for the Brady bill, said the measure, which passed in the U.S. House several months ago, is expected to be a part of the crime bill debate in the Senate next week.

″Today the spotlight shone on the lawmakers of Nebraska who put public safety ahead of the special interest gun lobby,″ Mrs. Brady said. ″Tomorrow, the spotlight will shine on members of the U.S. Senate as they prepare to case their votes on the Brady bill.″

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