Federal and state gun laws address the sale, purchase, possession, and use of firearms in the U.S. Whereas changes in federal law have been infrequent, state laws change often and can vary greatly. State gun control laws can limit who may purchase a firearm. They may set procedures for background checks and waiting periods. They often address the legality of concealed carry or open carry laws.
Nebraska gun control laws are less restrictive than several other states. Nebraskans have enacted more restrictions related to handguns than to rifles and shotguns.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides citizens with the right to bear arms for traditional purposes such as self-defense. As a result, gun owners often challenge state and local laws that ban or limit the possession or use of firearms. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022), involved a state regulatory scheme for the issuance of concealed carry permits.
The petitioners in the case claimed that their application for permits to carry firearms for self-defense was denied on subjective and arbitrary grounds. The New York law provided that authorities may issue a permit when an applicant shows proper cause. The Court invalidated the law, agreeing that its subjective evaluation for permits violated the Constitution. It held that citizens have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.
Thus, state regulations must use objective criteria such that a permit shall issue when such criteria are met. The Court also placed the burden on the government to show that a regulation is consistent with historical firearms regulation.
In light of Bruen, state and local governments seeking to address gun violence by enacting new firearms restrictions must demonstrate how a gun control law aligns with historical firearms regulations. In several states, including Nebraska, the Bruen decision encouraged efforts to pass constitutional carry or permitless carry laws. Such laws allow citizens to carry firearms in public without a permit for purposes such as self-defense whether the firearm is concealed or in open view.
In Nebraska, anyone 21 years or older who is not otherwise prohibited can carry a concealed handgun with or without a concealed handgun permit. However, persons in control of certain premises open to the public can prohibit non-law enforcement personnel from carrying a concealed handgun onto a premises by posting signs. The law also provides that concealed carry of a handgun is not permitted at the following locations:
- Stations of police, sheriff, or the Nebraska state patrol
- Detention facilities, prisons, and jails
- Courtrooms or buildings containing a courtroom
- Polling places during a bona fide election
- Meetings of governing bodies for cities, counties, school districts, and other political subdivisions
- Places of worship
- Meetings of the state legislature or committees of the legislature
- Financial institutions
- Professional or semi-professional sporting events and school sports events
- Hospitals, emergency rooms, and trauma centers
- Political rallies and fundraisers
- Certain establishments with a liquor license
Nebraska also passed a law that preempts local regulations of firearms that are inconsistent with state law. As a result, stricter gun ordinances and regulations in Omaha and Lincoln, the state's two largest cities, are currently facing challenges in the courts.
Nebraska law provides for background checks on only certain purchases or transfers of firearms. Federal firearms law requires a background check on purchases from a federal firearms dealer. Nebraska gun laws require a background check on handgun purchases that occur through a dealer or in a private sale, with some exceptions for antique firearms, those purchased for a law enforcement agency, and transactions between certain family members.
Private sale transfers of rifles and shotguns are not subject to background checks under state law.
Nebraska self-defense statutes do not currently include a stand-your-ground law. State law also does not provide a red flag law that permits the confiscation or prohibition of firearms from persons deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Nebraska Gun Control Laws at a Glance
Details of Nebraska's gun control laws are listed below.
Relevant Statutes (Laws)
|Neb. Rev. Stat. Sections 28-1201 through 28-1212.04
Neb. Rev. Stat. Sections 69-2401 through 69-2449
- Carrying concealed weapon - Section 28-1202
- Carrying concealed handgun; locations; restrictions - Section 28-1202.01
- Unlawful possession of a handgun - Section 28-1204
- Unlawful transfer of firearm to a juvenile - Section 28-1204.01
- Unlawful possession of a firearm at a school; penalty; exception - Section 28-1204.04
- Unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited juvenile offender - Section 28-1204.05
- Possession of a defaced firearm; penalty - Section 28-1207
- Sale, lease, rental, and transfer of handgun; certificate required - Section 69-2403
- Handgun Certificate; application; fee - Section 69-2404
- Applicant under Concealed Handgun Permit Act; requirements - Section 69-2433
|Under Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-1203, the following firearms are illegal* to possess or transport in Nebraska:
- Machine guns
- Short rifles
- Short shotguns
- A firearm with the manufacturer's identification mark or serial number removed, defaced, altered, or destroyed
*an exception applies for on-duty law enforcement or members of the armed forces
|Nebraska does not have a state law waiting period to purchase a firearm. The state requires a handgun purchaser to acquire a handgun certificate or a concealed handgun permit in most circumstances.
Who May Not Own
|A person cannot possess a firearm if the person:
- Is younger than 18 years of age and the firearm is a handgun
- Is younger than 25 years old and has previously been adjudicated an offender in juvenile court for an act that would constitute a felony or an act that would constitute a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- Has previously been convicted of a felony
- Is a fugitive from justice
- Is the subject of a current and validly issued domestic violence protection order, harassment protection order, or sexual assault protection order and is knowingly violating such order
- Is on probation pursuant to a deferred judgment for a felony
- Has been convicted within the past seven years of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
|In general, a person needs a handgun certificate or concealed handgun permit to purchase a handgun in Nebraska.
Concealed Carry License Required?
|No. A person 21 or older who is otherwise not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun may carry a concealed handgun with or without a permit for self-defense in Nebraska.
Open Carried Allowed?
|Nebraska has no law against open carry.
Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License
|In some circumstances, Nebraskans may seek to obtain a concealed handgun permit. To do so, they must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Not be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a handgun by federal law
- Possess the same powers of eyesight as needed for a Class O operator's license
- Not have been convicted of a felony
- Not have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of violence within the ten years immediately preceding the date of application
- Not have been found in the previous ten years to be a mentally ill and dangerous person under the Nebraska Mental Health Commitment Act or a similar law of another jurisdiction or not be currently adjudged mentally incompetent
- Have been a resident of the state for at least 180 days
- Not have had a conviction in the state relating to firearms, unlawful use of a weapon, or controlled substances or of any similar laws of another jurisdiction within the ten years preceding the date of application
- Not be on parole, probation, house arrest, or work release
- Provide proof of training
Machine Gun Laws
|Machine guns are prohibited in Nebraska unless a person is authorized to possess one under federal law.
Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession
|Penalties for illegal firearm possession depend on the offense. Below are some offenses and their penalties:
- Possessing a machine gun, short rifle, or short shotgun is a Class IV felony punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000
- Possession of a firearm by a prohibited juvenile offender is a Class IV felony punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000
- A second or subsequent offense of possession of a firearm by a prohibited juvenile offender is a Class IIIA felony punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000
- Possession of a firearm by a prohibited person is a Class ID felony punishable by a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years to a maximum term of 50 years
- A second or subsequent offense of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person is a Class IB felony punishable by 20 years to life imprisonment
- Possession of a defaced firearm is a Class III felony punishable by up to 4 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $25,000
- Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is a Class I misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000
- A second or subsequent conviction of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is a Class IV felony punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000
Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds
|Unlawful possession of a firearm at a school is a Class IV felony punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of any state law(s) you are reviewing.
Research the Law
Nebraska Gun Control Laws: Related Resources
Do You Have More Questions About Nebraska Gun Laws? Seek Legal Help.
Do you want more information on Nebraska gun laws? Do you face the possibility of state or federal gun charges in the state of Nebraska? Consider talking with a qualified attorney in your area. An attorney can provide you with detailed information and representation in court.