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ASK A COP: Can you open carry a gun in a store?

ASK A COP: Can you open carry a gun in a store?

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Each week, Scottsbluff Police Cpl. Krisa Brass will answer questions submitted by Star-Herald readers. Send questions for consideration to youasked@starherald.com or by leaving your question at 308-632-9057.

 Q. I have witnessed a few times a man in Wal-Mart in Scottsbluff with pistols walking around the store. His guns are in a cowboy type holster strapped to his legs. He’s dressed as a cowboy and seems to enjoy the attention he gets. Store employees ignore him.

Is this legal for him to carry guns like that in a public store? It’s intimidating and frankly scary, especially during this turbulent time on our country. The recent Wal-Mart massacre in El Paso comes to mind.

A. In a previous column we covered whether or not Nebraska is an open carry state and what the regulations are regarding open carry. So if you are at least 18 years of age and legally able to possess and carry said firearm you could carry it into a place of business as long as that business allows it and as long as the local government doesn’t have a restriction on it. For instance, in Omaha a concealed carry permit is required to open carry a firearm.

If the business is OK with open carrying within their building, and the person isn’t behaving in a concerning manner, law enforcement is rarely contacted for such situations. I can understand why you (and others) may feel intimidated by the presence of the firearm and acknowledge tragedies involving firearms, but what you are describing is legal so long as the person is old enough and not prohibited from possessing the firearm.

A prohibited person is any one of the following: a person who has been previously convicted of a felony, a fugitive from justice, the subject of a current and valid domestic abuse protection order in which they are violating, or a person who has been convicted of domestic violence within the past seven years.

There are locations where you cannot carry a firearm at all regardless of it being open carry or concealed carry. For instance: school property. Firearms are not allowed in a school, on school grounds, in a school-owned vehicle, at a school-sponsored activity, or at a school athletic event. Within this category are businesses who have postings advising they do not allow firearms on their property.

Along with the open carry regulations is the fact the weapon cannot be concealed whatsoever without the person possessing a concealed carry permit. Concealed carry permits come with a long list of rules and regulations themselves which is worthy of its own column.

As always, remember laws are specific to each jurisdiction so if you live outside of the Scottsbluff, Nebraska, area, be sure to check the laws concerning your location.

Each week, Scottsbluff Police Cpl. Krisa Brass will answer questions submitted by Star-Herald readers. Send questions for consideration to youasked@starherald.com or by leaving your question at 308-632-9057.

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