Legislation to provide gun owners with state income tax credits for costs associated with firearm safety training would help assure "responsible gun ownership," Sen. John Lowe of Kearney told the Legislature's Revenue Committee on Wednesday.
Lowe's proposal (LB542) would provide up to $100 of the cost of a training course and reduce state revenue by an estimated $670,000 in fiscal 2020-21 and $747,000 in fiscal 2021-22.
A similar credit would be allowed for training every five years.
That revenue "should go to public funds," Nebraskans Against Gun Violence President Amanda Gailey argued in opposition to the bill that, she said, would "take money out of Nebraska pockets and funnel it into the NRA."
The National Rifle Association supported the bill in a written communication to the committee.
A couple of opponents referred to "white supremacists" and the rising number of hate crimes committed with firearms during testimony in opposition to the bill.
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The measure was supported by representatives of the Steiner Academy of Firearms Training in Omaha and the Nebraska Shooters Training Academy.
They told the committee that gun training allows gun owners to be knowledgeable about their weapons and promotes gun safety.
Lowe said "private gun ownership is an important protected right" in the United States, guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
His bill is aimed at firearms safety, he said, and was prompted in part by "stories of improperly handling guns with tragic consequences."
A fiscal note attached to the bill by the Nebraska Department of Revenue stated "the department believes most credits will be used by those attending a conceal-and-carry safety course with a cost of approximately $125 to complete," thus qualifying for the maximum $100 tax credit.
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, there are approximately 60,000 conceal carry permits in Nebraska.
A number of firearm safety courses offered by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission are free and are mostly attended by children and adolescents, according to the fiscal note.