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Gun Ordinances Criticized, Scooters Approved

The Lincoln City Council heard mostly opposition to local gun ordinances Monday.  One proposal, introduced by Councilman Roy Christensen, was delayed for a month of additional study.  It would require that guns be securely locked in place if left in vehicles.

A second proposed ordinance, introduced by Council chair Jayne Raybould, would require timely reporting of gun thefts from vehicles to Police.  Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister told the Council that learning about a missing gun quickly might allow officers to prevent further crimes if it were located more quickly.  Melody Vacaro of the group Nebraskans Against Gun Violence appeared in support of the ordinance.

Andy Gick of Lincoln criticized Raybould’s proposal, saying it was vague and “almost indefensible.”

Amy Wimer of Lincoln, and Defense Attorney Corey Reiman, both warned the Council that, by requiring citizens to report stolen guns, they would turn victims of crime into criminals.  Wimer said that would likely place Lincoln in conflict with Haynes -vs- United States, a 1934 U.S. Supreme Court case in which the nation’s highest court ruled that citizens could not be compelled to incriminate themselves.  Wimer said the prospect of losing their concealed carry permit would discourage violators from reporting the theft of their gun.

Dave Kendall of Lincoln said it’s “incredibly bad policy” to require reporting.  He compared the circumstances of a gun theft victim to those of a sexual assault victim.

“I know nobody on this Council would be in favor of making a victim (sic) out of a victim of sexual assault” he said.  “If they don’t report the sexual assault, which allows their predator to go free, are we going to make them a criminal?” he asked, adding “because they’re endangering other people by not reporting it.”

City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick addressed the Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

“If you pass a safe storage ordinance, and someone is required to report the theft, and someone won’t tell you the time and place it was stolen, that’s not going to be a very effective investigation.”  Responding to those concerned about admitting to violating a safe storage ordinance, he said “Tell them the date, tell them the place, tell them somebody broke the window out of my vehicle, and when they say ‘was it securely stored’ you say ‘Officer, I’m going to have to take the Fifth Amendment’.”Kirkpatrick pointed out, however, that the safe storage requirement, proposed by Christensen is not the law in Lincoln and might or might not be passed by the Council.

Raybould’s ordinance is scheduled for a vote Monday, September 30.

The Council Monday approved a pilot program for rental of motorized scooters in downtown Lincoln.  Before the vote, an amendment by Council member Tammy Ward was approved, raising the minimum age for scooter rental to 18 instead of 16.  City-County Planning Director David Carey said approval of the measure would allow his department to begin soliciting bids and proposals from prospective vendors.




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