Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Concealed Weapon Permit? Not for a Nebraska sex offender...

Tony Underwood wanted a gun.  The Nebraska State Patrol had a problem with that.  

In a decision that clarifies who can get a concealed weapon permit, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled the Patrol had the law on its side when it turned down Underwood's application.  Being a convicted sex offender is reason enough, according to the high court.

The District Court in Douglas County convicted Underwood of third degree sexual assault of a child in 2008.  That's a Class III felony, but there is wording in the statute that Underwood felt gave him some leeway in owning a gun under state law.  In Nebraska you can't own a gun if you're guilty of committing a "crime of violence… within the ten years immediately preceding the date of application.”  At a hearing to determine if Underwood qualified for a permit, the hearing officer noted the term “crime of violence” was not defined clearly in the law, but recommended the State Patrol deny the permit.  Underwood's concealed weapon application was shot down by the Patrol.
Tony Underwood (Photo: NSP)

Underwood went to court claiming, in part, that “physical force” is required for a crime of violence.  What the Nebraska Supreme Court pondered was whether a 32-year-old man touching a 12-year-old girl while she slept could be defined as a crime of violence.  As the Justice's ruling issued last week concluded:  "Underwood’s reasoning is flawed."  He will not get his gun.

The ruling effectively blocks any Nebraska sex offender from getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and it also clarifies that child sexual assault at any level can be considered a crime of violence.

Read the full ruling here.