Lincoln senator offers red flag law to take guns from people at extreme risk

January 10, 2019

Nebraska senators introduced 138 measures Thursday on the first day of bill and resolution introductions, including a proposed red flag gun law, tax bills, legalization of medical cannabis, and a bill to require public schools to post “In God We Trust” in prominent locations.

Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld introduced the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act to enable law enforcement to remove firearms from a person at extreme risk of harming themselves or others.

Morfeld said that in drafting the bill, he worked with law enforcement and students who planned and participated in the March for Our Lives rally in 2018.

Capt. Kevin Griger of the Sarpy County Sheriffs Office said in a news release the protection order would be critical to removing weapons from people during a mental health crisis. Law enforcement and the courts could keep communities safer while protecting due process rights of those gun owners.

A court process would ensure the protection order is used only in extreme cases with proof the person is a danger and has access to firearms.

“As a gun owner and an attorney this is a critical component for me,” Morfeld said. “Law enforcement, students, and my constituents have made clear the need to have safeguards to ensure that those found to be suffering from severe mental illnesses and individuals who pose an immediate threat do not have access to firearms after an emergency court hearing.”

A petition for an extreme risk protection order must allege the person poses a significant risk of causing injury and has a firearm. It must be accompanied by an affidavit made under oath with statements, actions, or facts that give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts by the person.

It also must identify firearms the person is believed to have and what other protection orders have been issued, if known.

Lincoln student Isabel Bousson said in a statement that school shootings have been around her whole life.

″... This legislation could make an immediate impact in our community, which would mean generations to come wouldn’t have to worry about the threat of mass shootings, first and foremost in their schools, but also in their communities,” Bousson said.

Lincoln High School student Bouthaina Ebrihim said the law could “dim the culture of school shootings and ignorance to gun violence in America.”

The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to a request for a statement.

Other bills introduced on Thursday:

Tuition for service members

Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue sponsored a bill (LB6) allowing active duty military stationed in Nebraska, their spouses and dependents, to pay in-state tuition to colleges and universities. Sen. Sue Crawford, also of Bellevue, grouped service members enrolled in vocational rehabilitation programs into those who can pay in-state tuition in a similar bill (LB122).

State contract protests

A bill (LB21) from Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward would require the Department of Administrative Services to create a formal protest procedure “for any contract for services” exceeding $5 million awarded by state agencies.

Community college tax levies

Kolterman also introduced a bill (LB27) that would afford the state’s community colleges more flexibility in how they use their locally assessed property taxes. The measure does not raise the levy cap of 11.25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

‘In God We Trust’

Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard wants Nebraska’s public schools to display the national motto “In God We Trust” in each classroom or prominent place in each school building “where each student shall be able to see and read it each day school is in session.” Erdman’s bill (LB73) also requires the Nebraska Attorney General to defend school districts in civil litigation related to the motto.

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