Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.
Similarly, Nebraska law generally prohibits the following persons from possessing firearms:
- People convicted of felonies;
- A fugitive from justice;
- Any person subject to a current domestic violence protection order, harassment protection order, or sexual assault protection order, and in knowing violation of that order;
- Any person convicted within the past seven years of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;1 or
- Any person under the age of 25 who was previously been adjudicated an offender in juvenile court for an act which would constitute a felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.2
Nebraska has no laws, however, preventing the purchase or possession of firearms by:
- People convicted of violent misdemeanors (other than those convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor);
- Persons with severe mental illness; or
- People with substance use disorders.
For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the Nebraska Background Check Procedures section.
Nebraska law provides a process for a person prohibited from firearm possession under federal law because of a mental health-related commitment or adjudication, to petition the mental health board for relief.3 The petitioner must prove by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the petitioner will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety; and (2) the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest. The mental health board is to consider evidence about the circumstances of the mental health commitment, the petitioner’s record and reputation, and any changes in the petitioners condition. The mental health board must grant relief if it finds that the petitioner has proven by clear and convincing evidence that the firearm-related disabilities should be removed. The petitioner may appeal a denial of the requested relief to the district court. If a person has relief granted, then the commitment or adjudication that lead to the prohibition must not be considered for purposes of reviewing an application for a concealed carry permit or handgun purchase/transfer permit in Nebraska.4
See our Firearm Prohibitions policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
- Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-1206(1).
- Neb. Rev. § Stat. 28-1204.05.
- Neb. Rev. Stat. § 71-963.