En Español
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Know the Laws: Nebraska

UPDATED August 17, 2016

View by Section

WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area.  To find an advocate at a local program, please visit the NE State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

Basic Info and Definitions

back to topWhat is the difference between federal and state gun laws?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both "federal gun laws" and "state gun laws."  The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself.  Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws.  Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well.  You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws.  Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws. If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor.  If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor).  For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?  If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topI am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

Possibly. Both federal law and Nebraska state law prohibit certain persons from having and buying guns.

Nebraska state law says that it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony, who is a fugitive from justice (any person fleeing to avoid prosecution), or who is the subject of a current, valid domestic violence protection order and is knowingly violating such order, to possess a firearm, a knife, or brass or iron knuckles.*  Also, anyone who has been convicted within the past seven years of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence cannot possess a firearm or brass or iron knuckles.**

Also, in order to get a concealed weapons permit in Nebraska, the applicant must meet all the following requirements:

  • be at least twenty-one years of age;
  • not be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a handgun according to federal law 18 USC § 922, which includes the prohibition against a respondent in a protection order case from possessing a firearm;
  • meet certain vision (eyesight) requirements;
  • not have been convicted of a felony under the laws of Nebraska or any other state;
  • within the past 10 years, not have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of violence under the laws of Nebraska or any other state;
  • within the past 10 years, not have been found to be a "mentally ill and dangerous person" under the Nebraska Mental Health Commitment Act or a similar law in another state;
  • not be currently adjudged mentally incompetent by a court;
  • be a resident of this state for at least the past one hundred eighty days;
  • within the past 10 years, not have had a conviction of any Nebraska law relating to firearms, unlawful use of a weapon, or controlled substances (drugs) or of any similar laws of another state;
  • not be on parole, probation, house arrest, or work release; and
  • provide proof of firearm training.***

In addition, if you have a protection order against the abuser, or if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or of a domestic violence misdemeanor, then federal law states that it is illegal for your abuser him/her to buy or have a gun in his/her possession.****  Note: There are certain requirements that your protection order must meet for it to qualify under federal law. See I have a protection order against my abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun? to read more about what those requirements are.  If you are not sure if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors? To read the definition of a felony, see What is the definition of a felony?

* NE ST § 28-1206(1)(a)
** NE ST § 28-1206(1)(b)
*** NE ST § 69-2433
**** 18 USC § 922(g)(8),(9)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?

A crime is considered a domestic violence misdemeanor under federal law if it:

  • Can be defined as a misdemeanor under federal or state law; and
  • Involves physical violence or force, or includes threats made with a deadly weapon; and
  • Was committed by:
    • a current or former spouse;
    • a parent or guardian of the victim;
    • a person with whom the victim shares a child;
    • a person living with the victim as a spouse, parent or guardian; or
    • a person who has a similar relationship (listed above) with a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim.*

Note: The crime does not have to specifically mention "domestic violence" in order for it to be considered a domestic violence misdemeanor, and for the federal firearm law to apply.**  The relationship that the victim has with the offender is what determines whether or not the misdemeanor is a "domestic violence" misdemeanor.*** 

For example: If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his wife, he may no longer have or buy a gun.  If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his neighbor, he may still be able to have or buy a gun.

If you're not sure if a certain crime counts as a domestic violence misdemeanor, you can contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit at 1-800-903-0111 x 2. 

* 18 USC § 921(a)(33)(A)
** United States v. Kavoukian, 315 F. 3d 139 (2d. Cir. 2002); United States v. Meade, 175 F.3d 215 (1st Cir. 1999)
*** United States v. Denis, 297 F.3d.25(1st Cir. 2002); United States v. Costigan, No. 009-B0H, 2000 U.S. Dist. (D. Me. June 16, 2000)

 

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat is the definition of a felony?

A felony under federal law is a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year.*  Nebraska state law has various felony crimes, all with different sentences, some of which may be less than one year.**  To read the various classes of felonies in Nebraska, go to our NE Statutes page.

* 18 USC § 3559
** NE R.S. § 28-105

Did you find this information helpful?

Guns and Protection Orders

back to topI have a temporary (ex parte) protection order against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away?

Yes.  Nebraska law allows the judge to order that the abuser cannot purchase or possess a firearm in an ex parte protection order.*  If this is something that you want in your order, you may want to specifically mention in your petition that the abuser has firearms in his/her possession.

* NE R.S. §§ 42-924(g); 42-925(1)

 

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topI have a protection order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

Possibly not.  Nebraska state law allows the judge to order that the abuser cannot possess or purchase firearms as a term in your actual protection order.*

Also, under federal law, if you have a qualifying protection order, it can be illegal for the abuser to have a gun in his/her possession even if this is not written into the terms of your protection order.  In order for your protection order to qualify under federal law, the defendant must:

  • Be served (given) notice of the court hearing. In other words, the defendant must have been given paperwork that told him or her about the hearing.
  • Have an opportunity to attend the court hearing. Note: The abuser does not have to actually be at the hearing, but s/he has to have the opportunity to come to the hearing.
  • Be an "intimate partner" of the victim, which includes:
    • A current or former spouse;
    • A person with whom you share a child; or
    • A person you live with or have lived with in the past.**

If your protection order has expired, it is no longer a valid order under federal law, which means the firearm ban also does not apply. Your protection order probably says in the second paragraph that your order, unless modified, is good for one year from the date of issue, which should be written on the bottom of page one of your order.

Note: This federal law may not apply to law enforcement officials, military personnel, and other government employees who use guns while performing official duties.***  If the abuser is a police officer, member of the military, or someone else who uses a gun for his/her job, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options.  To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the NE State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

* NE R.S. § 42-925(1)
** 18 USC § 921(a)(32)
*** 18 USC § 925(a)(1)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIs there anything I can do to make it more likely that my abuser's gun is taken away when I get a protection order?

While it does not need to be written on your order that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun in order for the federal law to be enforced, it may make it easier if it is written.

Here are a few things that you may be able to ask for to try to make the firearm prohibition clearer:

  1. If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever threatened you with a gun(s).
  2. Ask the judge to check the box on your protection order that says the defendant cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect.
  3. Before leaving the courthouse, check to make sure that the gun restriction is checked on your order.
  4. It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser's guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:
    • Require the abuser to give his/her guns to the police, or require the police to go to the abuser's house and get them;
    • Make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
    • Order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topThe abuser did not show up for the protection order hearing. Can his/her gun still be taken away?

Maybe. The abuser does not have to come to the hearing in order for the law to apply to him/her, but s/he does have to be given notice of the hearing and an opportunity to attend.*  If no hearing is scheduled, and/or no notice is given about the protective order, then the federal firearm law might not apply to the abuser.**

* United States v. Bunnell, 106 F. Supp. 2d 60 (D. Me. 2000), aff'd 280 F. 3d 46 (1st Cir. 2002.)
** United States v. Spruill, 292 F. 3d 207 (5th Cir. 2002.)

Did you find this information helpful?

Guns and Criminal Convictions

back to topIf the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

No. Under federal law, if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, s/he cannot have or buy a gun. * If you're not sure if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?

In addition, Nebraska state law makes it illegal for a person to have or buy a gun if s/he has been convicted of a felony or is a fugitive from justice (any person fleeing to avoid prosecution).**   Also, in order to get a concealed weapons permit in Nebraska, the applicant must:

  • not have been convicted of a felony under the laws of Nebraska or any other state;
  • within the past 10 years, not have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of violence under the laws of Nebraska or any other state;
  • within the past 10 years, not have had a conviction of any Nebraska law relating to firearms, unlawful use of a weapon, or controlled substances (drugs) or of any similar laws of another state; and
  • not be on parole, probation, house arrest, or work release.***
* 18 USC § 922(g)(9)
** NE R.S. § 28-1206(1)
*** NE R.S. § 69-2433(4),(5),(8),(9)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIf a law enforcement officer or other government employee is convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, can s/he have or buy a gun?

No.  Law enforcement officers and other government officials who have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony cannot have or buy guns for any purpose, including their official duties, according to federal law. *

* 18 USC § 925(a)(1)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topHow can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or a felony?

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public but they are not always easy to access.  If you know the exact courthouse where your abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Did you find this information helpful?

More Information and Where to Get Help

back to topIf the abuser's gun(s) is taken away, what will happen to it?

It depends.  If the abuser’s gun is ordered to be taken away by your protection order, it may either be held by the sheriff department in your county, or in some cases, the authorities will allow the abuser to leave the gun with a friend or relative while your protection order is in effect.  You can ask the court or law enforcement official handling your case where the abusers guns will go.

If your abuser’s gun is confiscated by the police because s/he was convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony, the police will likely destroy the weapon.

Remember, it’s a good idea to have a safety plan in place, even if the abuser’s weapons are taken away.  See our Staying Safe page for safety planning ideas.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWho do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the state police.  If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). 

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our NE Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in Nebraska on the ATF website.  For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867).  Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer. 

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials.  You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our NE State and Local Programs page. 

Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law.  If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.* 

United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat is the penalty for violating the federal firearm law?

Anyone who has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm law can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both. *

* 18 USC § 924(a)(2)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topI do not have a protection order against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor. Can s/he have a gun?

Even if you do not have a protection order and the abuser was not convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor of a felony, there are other conditions under which the abuser cannot get a concealed weapons permit and so it may still be illegal for the abuser to possess a firearm.  In order to get a concealed weapons permit in Nebraska, the applicant must meet all these other requirements:

  • be at least twenty-one years of age;
  • not be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a handgun according to federal law 18 USC § 922, which includes many terms, aside from the prohibition against a respondent in a protection order case from possessing a firearm;
  • meet certain vision (eyesight) requirements;
  • not have been convicted of a felony under the laws of Nebraska or any other state;
  • within the past 10 years, not have been found to be a "mentally ill and dangerous person" under the Nebraska Mental Health Commitment Act or a similar law in another state;
  • not be currently adjudged mentally incompetent by a court;
  • be a resident of this state for at least the past one hundred eighty days;
  • within the past 10 years, not have had a conviction of any Nebraska law relating to firearms, unlawful use of a weapon, or controlled substances (drugs) or of any similar laws of another state;
  • not be on parole, probation, house arrest, or work release; and
  • provide proof of firearm training.*

You can still make a plan for your safety. See our Staying Safe page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety.  To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the NE State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

For additional information on gun laws in Nebraska, you can go to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence website.

* NE R.S. § 69-2433

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from buying a gun.  Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system.  Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales.  

If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate.  Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topThe abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply?

If the abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, then under federal law, the abuser can NEVER buy or have a gun, even if s/he is a police officer or a military employee.

However, if the abuser was not convicted of one of the above-mentioned crimes, an abuser who is a law enforcement officer, military employee or government employee may still be able to continue to use a gun for work purposes (but not for personal use) even if you have a protective order.*

If you are confused or not sure whether the abuser can still use his/her gun for work purposes, you can talk to a domestic violence advocate in your area or call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to find out more information: 1-800-903-0111 x 2. To find a domestic violence advocate in your area, please go to our NE State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab on the top of this page.

* 18 USC § 925(a)(1)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topI've read through all of this information and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can also contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x 2
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area - see NE State and Local Programs page.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to top