Nebraska Supreme Court Basically Bans Guns-In-Cars for Non Concealed Carry Permit Holders

If your firearm is in plain sight, you might be okay as it would be considered “open carry,” however if it’s concealed in a case within your vehicle’s cabin, and you don’t have a valid concealed carry permit, you will run afoul of the law.

A Nebraska resident without a concealed carry permit may no longer be allowed to carry a gun anywhere in their vehicle’s cab.

The Nebraska Supreme Court passed down a unanimous decision this week that makes it a violation of the state’s concealed carry laws to have a firearm accessible anywhere inside a vehicle when the vehicle comes to a stop.

State law says a Nebraskan cannot have a hidden firearm “on or about his or her person” without a valid permit. In the past the Court ruled that a handgun must be “within immediate physical reach” to violate the law, but did not specify whether or not the gun owner’s vehicle had to be stopped.

In the latest decision, the Court ruled against Joseph D. Senn, Jr., who had a handgun in a case wedged between the passenger seat and the passenger door of his vehicle. The sheriff’s deputy who first noticed the gun case said it was “completely on the other side of the cab” and that Senn could not have accessed the firearm while driving.

An appeals court initially sided with Senn, but the state moved the case to the high court, where judges said Senn could have grabbed the gun after the car came to a stop.

“We conclude that the jury, as a rational trier of fact, could have found that the handgun was on or about Senn’s person, even though it was not within his reach while driving,” Supreme Court Judge Max Kelch wrote for the unanimous court.

Needless to say, the decision has gun owners concerned.

Senn’s attorney, Keith Kollasch, told the Omaha World-Herald that the ruling will make transporting firearms in the state of Nebraska extremely difficult without a concealed carry permit.

“How do you transport a firearm in Nebraska, then?” he asked. “You’re pheasant hunting, you’ve got a firearm in a case, outside your reach. Under this ruling, they could probably charge you with a concealed weapons charge.”

Even after Senn’s vehicle came to a stop, accessing his firearm would have required him to lean all the way across his car and reach down between the passenger door and seat. If Senn’s storage location is within “immediate physical reach,” keeping a firearm in a case or locked safe anywhere in a vehicle’s cab (including the back seat) could land gun owners in hot water.

Rod Moeller, president of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association, told the Omaha World-Herald that Nebraskans have two alternatives if they don’t want to risk transporting a firearm within “immediate physical reach.”

They can keep the gun in plain sight so an officer can clearly see it when they approach the vehicle. That strategy, however, comes with a risk: Moeller said he’s heard of cases in which the open carry approach has resulted in a concealed weapons charge.

If Nebraskans wish to transport their firearms without any risk, the Court’s decision forces them to obtain a concealed carry permit or store their firearms in their trunk.

{ 42 comments… add one }
  • Jon Swanson December 27, 2016, 6:00 pm

    If it’s in plane sight it’s legal . Unless your in a city that doesn’t allow open carry then your in a grey area. You can get charged with anything if an officer writes it on a ticket. He can charge you with concealed carry if you had it in your trunk. The court would throw it out though

  • Mark Wynn December 26, 2016, 1:56 am

    Please click on the blue, hot link in the fourth paragraph. It will explain all, including that the guy had an argument with a female, went to his vehicle, came back with a pistol and fired a round at her. The issue was not that he could or could not reach the weapon while driving, as the law doesn’t specify “while driving.” Having read the complete ruling, I’m satisfied that my Nebraska Supreme Court made a lawful ruling, and it does not change any laws regarding transporting weapons in my vehicle.
    Oh, and whoever is monitoring these posts tonight seems to be deleting those that don’t agree with the writers. Makes me wonder about someone that advocates for the 2nd Amendment but doesn’t respect the 1st Amendment.

    • Mark Wynn December 26, 2016, 1:59 am

      I stand corrected on the “monitoring” as all the comments, including AllenK’s, have reappeared after I refreshed the page. Apologize if I leaped to the wrong conclusion about a moderator.

    • Tom Horn December 27, 2016, 6:45 am

      Yeah, Mark, it is only a problem to those of us who believe in the 2nd Amendment. By leaning the seat back and stretching, I can reach almost anywhere in my SUV (now a common U.S. vehicle w/out trunk).

  • Mark Wynn December 26, 2016, 12:50 am

    I live in Lincoln and hadn’t heard of this ruling until here. My compact, king cab pickup doesn’t have a “trunk.” I transport my pistols in a shooter’s bag behind the driver’s seat. So, how do I transport my weapon to the range anymore?

  • ToddB December 25, 2016, 5:27 pm

    Apparently TN had a similar problem for a while. That a gun and ammo in the same vehicle was considered ‘a loaded weapon’ and people were getting busted coming and going from shooting the gun. Its really not an issue if common sense is applied. A gun in a case and ammo in a separate container hardly means its ready to go. But unfortunately not everybody in LE applies such common sense or just saw it a way to raise revenue/applied unevenly. So not long ago they made it legal to have a loaded gun in your car without being a concealed permit holder. Tho the open carry law is still a bit dumb as you need a concealed permit to carry open or concealed.

  • Bug December 25, 2016, 10:31 am

    Underhanded, backdoor gun registration scheme – in NEBRASKA! Again, the left continually nibbling at the rights of the law-abiding.
    It’s their M. O. and they’re damned good at it.
    Ever vigilant, people. Raise your voices and be heard and vote at every opportunity.

  • MIKE OKELLY December 23, 2016, 8:25 pm

    time to move from nebraska, starting to be just like cali. screw that

  • Campbell A King December 23, 2016, 5:58 pm

    So if u buy a gun at Cabela’s or any gun dealer you cannot take it home with you unless it’s in trunk or bed ? Bull shit..More stupidgits making laws

  • Chuck M December 23, 2016, 2:03 pm

    I live in Nebraska and the stuff is gonna hit the fan over this!

  • AllenK December 23, 2016, 1:41 pm

    I am a NE resident with a CCW/CHP. The issue is, he did not have a CCW/CHP and the case was not locked that the handgun was in. I am not saying I agree with all the laws, so please do not kill the messenger, just providing some info/thoughts on the matter.
    Federal :18USC926a Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
    NE: 28-1202. (1)(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, any person who carries a weapon or weapons concealed on or about his or her person, such as a handgun, a knife, brass or iron knuckles, or any other deadly weapon, commits the offense of carrying a concealed weapon.

    Leaving everything out in the open is probably the safest approach, legally. The closer you get to an unloaded handgun in a locked case stored back in the trunk, the less your attorney has to worry about. 

    You don’t have a trunk, so a locked case under your back seat would be suitable.    The whole point is to demonstrate that the handgun is not readily accessible from the driver’s seat or the passenger compartment.   So a cable tether on the case would be an enhancer. “Then how am I gonna be able to use the handgun to defend myself?”   Well, you’re not.   You’re transporting it.   If you want to use it to defend yourself, then Open Carry on the dash, your front seat, or some other visible location would be a workable alternative.   Like your outside waistband hip holster.

    • Jeff Ervin December 23, 2016, 2:29 pm

      Move to Missouri, the castle doctrine includes your vehicle

      • Bug December 25, 2016, 10:35 am

        Yep. No castle doctrine in your state? Move. Enough leave, the state wakes up.

    • mark wynn December 26, 2016, 1:23 am

      Thanks for clarifying, AllenK. I suspected this was more fake than fact news … otherwise it would have generated a lot of pushback in this guns for work, hunting and protection state.

  • RGE December 23, 2016, 1:37 pm

    My basic assumption here is that like a lot of things in Nebraska, this is a ludicrous opinion that defies the laws of physics, much less logic.

    So what if you have it in your trunk. Disassembled, under lock and key, and it requires 9 steps to unlock, assemble, load and then fire? By extension any firearm is within reach including the one attached the police officer.

    • Mark Wynn December 26, 2016, 1:05 am

      I lived around the USA and around the world during a 30-year military career … and I find Nebraskan are common-sense, practical-minded and gun accommodating. We’re a state filled with farmers, ranchers and city folk that both hunt and believe in self-protection. Since, by your flppant remark, you seem to lack common sense, I presume you’re not a real Nebraskan.

  • BKYoung December 23, 2016, 1:00 pm

    So I have some questions. If you need a CCW permits to carry a gun in your car, which in a lot of states is an extension of your home, have they consider this for an examination. Do you need a permit to talk to your friends & go to church (1st Amendment)? Do you need a permit to not be searched under the 4th? Do I need a permit to evoke my 5th right? How about any other items under the Bill of Rights? As I have stated in another thread, the 2nd Amendment is a right & it’s backed up by 18 U.S.C. 241.

    • clyde December 27, 2016, 7:41 am

      Yes you are correct. If making us have a “permit” to exercise any one of our rights it “will” spread to the others.

  • Larry December 23, 2016, 11:38 am

    Step one to disarming everyone without a carry permit. Pretty soon, they will extend this garbage to having a gun in your home. They probably hope to get to the point that no one will be legal having a gun unless they are “REGISTERED” in their little book of gun owners! At some future point, they can then easily confiscate all the legal weapons in the state.
    Fight their tyranny now or live to regret it.

  • Mauser6863 December 23, 2016, 10:55 am

    Agreed that the court should have declined to rule and referred the State back to the legislature were law is actually made.

    Corn Huskers should just use this ruling to lobby for Constitutional carry legislation and then this silly law won’t matter.

  • hoss December 23, 2016, 10:17 am

    These stupid politicians and their political stooge judges still don’t get it that ” WE THE PEOPLE” are
    tired of their BS! That is exactly why Mr. Trump was elected! Time for the citizens of Nebraska to clean house!

  • BnB December 23, 2016, 10:02 am

    I guess they don’t have pickup trucks in Nebraska so that won’t be an issue.

    • Mark Wynn December 26, 2016, 1:10 am

      You guessed it, BnB … but thank goodness our Unicameral passed the open-buckboard law.

    • Sgt. Pop December 26, 2016, 11:40 am

      So we can’t go Snow Goose hunting in Nebraska in 2017 as we come from out of state, and travel in SUV’s, no trunk……….Well, Kansas will have about 12 new goose hunters that will buy/spend their money locally there.

  • gary holfstra December 23, 2016, 10:01 am

    What the fark? Are Kalifornians moving to Nebraska now? Taking over the courts?

  • BR549 December 23, 2016, 8:46 am

    Funny, but I thought the role of the court was to rule on the constitutionality of an issue, not legislate from the bench. Their ruling violates the Constitution; therefore, it is illegal.

    • Ernie Lane December 23, 2016, 9:52 am

      That’s my understanding as well. Since when did they get the right to make laws. Another court overstepping their powers.

    • robert December 23, 2016, 9:57 am

      Excellent point! I feel that in such cases, gun owners should rally together and create a goddamned parade of vehicles in which we all carry whatever the hell we want—making a public display of it. Non-compliance with anti-constitutional rulings is frankly the only way to deal with such hypocrisy. And I think gun owners in other states should do the same to show their solidarity in this. After all, it’s a national issue, not merely a state one. The feds need to know that we won’t allow our rights to be infringed—period.

      • Mauser6863 December 23, 2016, 10:59 am

        Good idea, they could get the Military Vehicle collectors to show up with a few tanks in front of the state capitol.

        Drop off a petition to the law makers and a case of “Depends” adult diapers, just in case they are needed.

  • T December 23, 2016, 8:40 am

    Ohio has the same type law and this needs to change. Our “right to life “does not depend on the safety of the state employees. We are most vulnerable in a vehicle and do not need a permission slip from the very government our founders were protecting us from. Conceal Carry permits are a form of registration and so many 2nd Amendment advocates goes right along like sheep. 13 states now have constitutional carry now with no effects of increased anarchy like the left has always cried about, we need this in all 50 states so “the people” can put the power of defending ourselves from tyranny of any sort. Which, it is still idiotic to pass new laws to protect a right that we have already protected under the CURRENT CONSTITUTION. I think this is way the politicians can say, we ALLOWED you this right and we will take it away at anytime. Making man your God / Creator of natural laws….WAKE UP AMERICA!

  • James Rice December 23, 2016, 7:01 am

    Get the Nebraska legislature go pass a law that allows sensible transportation of firearms. Next, run candidates for Supreme Court and get rid of the judges who want to take away citizen’s rights.

  • Madmortarman December 23, 2016, 6:42 am

    This is also the same state… it is a crime to carry a loaded shotgun on any roadway….

    • Mark Wynn December 26, 2016, 1:15 am

      That’s a good law that been around since I was a kid tromping through corn and milo fields, too young to carry a shotgun yet, Madmortarman, and if you were a Nebraska upland game hunter you’d understand why. Shooting from the road is problematic … for several reasons.

  • Pseudo December 23, 2016, 6:32 am

    Another back door registry and revenue method generated under the guise of “gun control” from obamaha nobraska.

  • Jerry Jones December 23, 2016, 6:09 am

    Nebraskans need to demand that their Legislature pass a “right to carry” bill like their neighbors to the south and west have in Kansas, Missouri and Wyoming.

  • Linc. Qimiq December 23, 2016, 4:37 am

    I dont need a permit for carry a gun I am from Alaska… i been carry a gun for 13 years I dont have a problem with police

  • Capn Stefano December 21, 2016, 3:40 pm

    Yes, to hell with the RIGHT to Keep and BEAR arms! Also your right to life. These traitors in black robes must be impeached. The Founders would have done at least that, if not more

  • ks December 21, 2016, 3:36 pm

    time to recall the attorney general, local prosecutor and supreme court judges

    nra…sic ’em

  • Jeffrey Bell December 21, 2016, 11:20 am

    Don’t be too fast to believe the media’s interpretation of a gun law. My local game warden says this ruling only applies to handguns not long guns.
    My issues remain with government overreach when it comes to gun laws. Gun laws do very little to deter any criminal activity.

  • Philip Puckorius December 21, 2016, 7:59 am

    And if you drive a Suburban or other SUV without a trunk or aftermarket “gun vault” in the back???

  • LHTwist December 20, 2016, 4:41 pm

    Another option, with long reaching effect, would be to work toward replacing the misguided members of the Nebraska Supreme Court.

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