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Omaha sued over gun law aimed at legal immigrants

Omaha sued over gun law aimed at legal immigrants

A Mexican national and two gun-rights organizations sued the city of Omaha on Tuesday over an ordinance prohibiting legal resident immigrants who are not U.S. citizens from possessing handguns.
Armando Pliego Gonzalez, the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association and the Second Amendment Foundation filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nebraska. Gonzalez was given permanent resident alien status in 2008, more than seven years after legally moving to the U.S., the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit explains that Gonzalez bought a gun after a break-in and robbery at his home in 2010. But when he tried to register the gun with the Omaha Police Department _ as required by local law _ he was denied a registration permit because he is not a U.S. citizen.
"Omaha's prohibition on registration of handguns by non-citizens, even those legally in the United States ... significantly limits (Gonzalez's) ability to protect himself and his family in the event of violence," the lawsuit says.
Possession of a handgun not registered with the Omaha Police Department is a misdemeanor crime that can result in confiscation of the gun, a fine and possible jail time.
The lawsuit claims the denial of the permit violates Gonzalez's constitutional right to equal protection under the law and the right to bear arms. It asks a judge to issue preliminary and permanent injunctions to keep the Omaha law from being enforced and to declare the citizenship requirement unconstitutional.
While Gonzalez can legally own a handgun under Nebraska law, the city ordinance bans him from owning a handgun in his home for self-defense, said Andy Allen, president of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association.
"For years, the NFOA has attempted to discuss with the city a number of issues in Omaha's onerous firearms laws, but has been met by a complete refusal to even open a dialogue," Allen said. "This case addresses the first of those issues, and we hope the city considers taking measures to remove the burdensome restrictions on the fundamental rights of its law-abiding population."
Omaha's law barring handgun permits for non-U.S. citizens has been on the books since at least 1988, Allen said, and is unique in Nebraska. But a similar lawsuit was filed earlier this year in Massachusetts by a United Kingdom citizen and two gun rights groups claiming a state law there barring legal immigrants from owning handguns is unconstitutional.
The city attorney's office had closed for the day on Tuesday afternoon when The Associated Press called seeking comment from City Attorney Paul Kratz. A message left for Kratz was not immediately returned.


Updated : 2021-05-17 06:48 GMT+08:00