CLOSING: LB635, introduced by Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue, a bill that would change where a permit holder may carry a concealed handgun.

SENATOR SEILER: Okay, thank you. Any further opposition? Anybody in the neutral? The documents will be made part of the record, and the signage outside will be made part of the record. And the record is closed and you may close.

SENATOR GARRETT: Thank you, Chairman Seiler and members of the committee. I greatly appreciate both the proponents' and opponents' testimony. The Second Amendment allows us to keep and bear arms, and we are very much a gun culture. When I went to high school, I know it's been some time ago, but I graduated in 1972. We had a lot of farm and ranch kids that drove their pickups to our school. Nobody ever locked their car. And I can remember the vast majority of these pickups had gun racks. And they had shotguns and rifles on these gun racks and no one ever thought twice about it on school grounds. And these vehicles were unlocked. We are just...like it or not, we are a gun culture. This Legislature a number of years ago saw fit to pass a concealed carry permit law. And these are law-abiding citizens and they want to do the right thing that's...you know, when they came to me and wanted me to champion this bill. Statute prohibits you from drinking alcohol and even having remnants of alcohol in your system when you're carrying your weapon. I mean, that law exists there. Just let the record show I was...between college and the time I went on active duty, I worked as head bouncer at a night club at night, so I've seen more than my fair share of bar fights. The numbers that were quoted earlier about the number of shootings outside of bars I would hazard to guess...I would like to see the numbers of how many of those weapons involved in shootings outside of bars were with people who were...had a concealed carry permit. Unfortunately, violence is a part of this society and shooting somebody and going outside...going on outside of bars forever in as many bars as this great nation has. I'm surprised the numbers aren't even higher, but I'll almost guarantee you that none of those gun-related incidence outside of a bar or in a bar were from people who had concealed carry permits. We're not talking about Nebraska citizens with a concealed carry permit wanting to go out and party hardy and set their hair on fire. We're talking about guys who want to take their families out to a Chili's or to an Applebee's or Buffalo Wild Wings. That's not...it's not what we're talking about. And as far as the law enforcement officer situation goes, unfortunately...you say you want to keep guns off of school grounds. I would like to keep guns off of school grounds too. However, with the proliferation of firearms in this nation and so many of them illegally that we can't control, firearms are going to find their way onto school grounds. And I would prefer if there's an off-duty cop or law enforcement officer on school grounds, a mom or a dad, I would like to see them carrying their weapon. I feel much safer knowing that we've got additional law enforcement officers out there. I've got to tell you, the first time I came into this Capitol Building, I couldn't believe I walked right in like I owned the place through the South Entrance, no metal detector, nobody checking bags and purses and that kind of thing. And I have the greatest respect for our State Troopers who guard this facility, but I am mortified that, just like the Murrah office building down in Oklahoma City that was bombed, that some nut is going to come through that door one of these days and...

SENATOR CHAMBERS: But, Senator, I'm in this building so that's like a protective influence.

SENATOR GARRETT: (Laugh) That's true.

SENATOR EBKE: Senator Chambers has a protective shield over the Capitol, right?

SENATOR GARRETT: That's right.

SENATOR WILLIAMS: Or a magnet. (Laughter)

SENATOR KRIST: Okay, really? Then you come sit over here. (Laughter)

SENATOR CHAMBERS: I shouldn't have said anything. (Laughter)

SENATOR GARRETT: (Laughter) Get out of the frying pan. You know, we are a gun society. I, you know, like it or not it's there. You know, we have a war on drugs. We haven't been able to win the war on drugs. There are firearms out there. A lot of the criminals, the criminal element has firearms. We're asking that law-abiding citizens who have taken the course and are acting responsibly be able to carry their weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol.

SENATOR SEILER: Senator Chambers.

SENATOR CHAMBERS: Senator, I have to ask you this question. What are they afraid of? Before they could carry these concealed weapons, obviously, nobody killed them, nobody shot them, and now that they can carry these guns, they're afraid of every...you tell me, since you're one of the advocates, what are they afraid of?

SENATOR GARRETT: Well, I think you were making a very good point earlier about ISIS and ISIL and the Taliban and the way the world situation is now and so many Americans becoming radicalized. And as much violence as is going on, everybody has a personal feeling of insecurity or security and...

SENATOR CHAMBERS: My ISIS is the police. And you know what the county attorney said, Don Kleine: If the officer makes a mistake, if he's wrong but he had reason to think that he was right, then he's clear. I cannot get away with that and shoot you and say, well, I thought he was going to do something. They say, uh-uh, buddy, that doesn't work. Well, now we presume that these officers are trained. To show how little their training means and how they hide behind it, some guy out east was fired because he was dealing with a guy who had a mental problem and wound up...he was on duty, shot the guy 14 times, and he was fired. Now he's trying to get his job back. And you know what the lawyer is arguing? And he's justified in view of the not finding any fault in what these cops are doing. He said, yes, he shot the man 14 times, but it was within his training. So now, if the police are trained to shoot somebody in the back, then the cop who shoots in the back says, it was pursuant to my training, and he's home free. That's what's happening. I would tell young people: If you tell somebody to go across the world to fight for ISIS, they can put you in jail if you just talk about it. If you want to fight injustice, don't...you don't have to go around the world to find the ISIS mentality. Your ISIS is in America and you're likely to die over there, one way or the other. So if you're going to die, die making your home safe. My home is not threatened by ISIS. Mine is threatened by the police. The police are licensed to kill us, children, old people. They showed a guy on a highway. The highway trooper, he had this elderly black woman down on the ground, just beating the stew out of her, and nothing was done to him. That's what I see. Now suppose somebody told me somebody from ISIS did that. Then everybody is up in arms: See what cowards they are? They beat women in broad daylight. But when a cop does it, it's all right. I don't feel that way. And if I were going to do something--but I'm not a man of violence--I wouldn't go to Syria, I wouldn't go to Iraq, I wouldn't go to Afghanistan, I wouldn't go to Yemen, I wouldn't go to Tunisia, I wouldn't go to Lebanon, I wouldn't go to Jordan. I would do it right here. Nobody from ISIS ever terrorized us as a people, as the police do daily. And they get away with it and they've been given the license now. And people don't like me to say this. Then you rein in your cops. And you know what they say, the racism of the cops is merely reflective of the racism in this society and they accept the existence of racism to excuse the cop. But then when I say there is racism in the society, they say, you're playing the race card, you're talking about it makes it happen. But when they want to justify the cop, they say, he's merely reflective of the community where there is white racism. And that's what I look...you don't have to deal with that. You're privileged. You're free of that. You don't have to think about it every day. If I was going to carry a weapon, it wouldn't be against you, it wouldn't be against these people who come here that I might have a dispute with. Mine would be for the police. And if I carried a gun, I'd want to shoot him first and then ask questions later, like they say the cop ought to do.

SENATOR GARRETT: Senator, I...

SENATOR CHAMBERS: But could I get away with it? You know I couldn't get away with it. They'd better hope I never lose my mind and find out that I'm on my way out of here. (Laughter)

SENATOR GARRETT: Senator, I think that is...the situations that you've described, I think each and every one of us is outraged by that kind of thing.

SENATOR CHAMBERS: I don't think so.

SENATOR GARRETT: I honestly, in my heart, believe that. The vast majority of law enforcement, law enforcement is such a difficult job and the vast majority of those officers do a great job, I feel. And I've known so many. I've had family members that have tried to get in law enforcement in various states and it...the psychological screening that they have to go through is pretty intense. That doesn't mean that some people don't slip through and...

SENATOR CHAMBERS: I respect the State Patrol. The State Patrol that these men that I respect because I get a chance to know them...I used to say the State Patrol is the flagship of law enforcement. They recruited a cop who was found guilty by the Internal Affairs Department of Lincoln Police Department. They found him guilty of excessive force. He had a man handcuffed and knocked him against the wall, left blood, and they found him guilty. And the State Patrol recruited him and he's going to graduate in May and be on the State Patrol. That's showing how low their standards are. He was found to have done wrong by a police agency and the police were notified by jail employees and they were...they used the video. They felt it was excessive, and they see cops doing the wrong thing all the time. So when you tell me about psychological screening, they must screen them to make sure that they can commit violence against unarmed people and not be troubled by...the State Patrol recruited him, Lancaster County Sheriff Wagner hired the other one, both of them off LPD, both found guilty of use of excessive force. And they were hired by other law enforcement agencies knowing that. And then you're going to tell me about the psychological screening and the training? Those are the words that are said, but they mean nothing. If I have to designate an enemy of mine in this society, it's the police.

SENATOR GARRETT: Honestly, Senator Chambers, I believe in my heart that, you know, we have law enforcement in every community in the nation and the vast, vast majority...my wife and I, our best friend in the world is a retired New York City cop. And I know what he's gone through. The first time he was involved in a shooting and he killed someone in a shooting, you talk about PTSD, I mean, these are...the vast majority, I know in my hear that the vast majority of law enforcement officers are there to uphold the laws and to treat people with respect and dignity. There is always going to be a bad apple that slips through, and I'm convinced that they're a minority.

SENATOR CHAMBERS: Oh, I'll let it go now. Okay.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSLegislature.

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State government reporter

JoAnne Young covers state government, including the Legislature and state agencies, and the people they serve.

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