Article I, § 1 of the Nebraska Constitution incorporates the right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes as one of the “inherent and inalienable” rights of its citizens: “All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes, and such rights shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof.”
Notwithstanding Article I, § 1, the right keep and bear arms is subject to reasonable regulation in Nebraska. In State v. Comeau, the Supreme Court of Nebraska rejected an article I, § 1 challenge to Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-1207 (prohibiting possession of a firearm with altered identification marks) and 28-1206 (prohibiting possession of a deadly weapon by a felon).1 The court held that the “right to keep and bear arms” is not absolute and the state may adopt reasonable regulations concerning firearms.2
The Supreme Court of Nebraska rejected another article I, § 1 challenge to section 28-1206 in State v. Mowell.3 The defendant argued that section 28-1206 violated his article I, § 1 “right to defend himself.” Consistent with earlier case law, the court found the statute to be a “reasonable, and constitutional, restriction on the right to bear arms.”4
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- 448 N.W.2d 595 (Neb. 1989).
- Comeau, 448 N.W.2d at 597, 600.
- 672 N.W.2d 389 (Neb. 2003).
- Mowell, 672 N.W.2d at 401. See also State v. LaChapelle, 451 N.W.2d 689, 691 (Neb. 1990) (rejecting an article I, § 1 challenge to section 28-1203(1) (prohibiting possession of a machine gun, short rifle or short shotgun), holding that the section “is a valid exercise of the State’s police power in reasonable regulation of certain firearms”); State v. Harrington, 461 N.W.2d 752 (Neb. 1990), overruled on other grounds by State v. Woodfork, 478 N.W.2d 248 (Neb. 1991) (rejecting an article I, § 1 challenge to section 28-1206); and State v. Blank, 474 N.W.2d 689 (Neb. 1991) (also rejecting an article I, § 1 challenge to section 28-1206).