Purchasing a Handgun in Nebraska

Within this framework of federal law, how does a person purchase a handgun in Nebraska?
Nebraska has developed an alternative background check system for the purchase of handguns.  The Nebraska system requires a prospective purchaser to first apply for and receive a handgun purchase certificate from the local chief of police or sheriff.   Applicants must pay a five-dollar application fee. The local law enforcement agency then conducts a background check on the applicant.

With some exceptions, individuals cannot purchase, lease, rent, or receive transfer of a handgun in Nebraska without this certificate.

The exceptions are:

  • Federally licensed firearms dealers;
  • Individuals acquiring antique handguns;
  • Persons authorized to acquire handguns on behalf of a law enforcement agency;
  • Temporary transfers when the transferee remains in the line of sight of the transferor or within the premises of an established shooting facility;
  • Transfers between a person and his or her spouse, sibling, parent, child, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or grandparent;
  • Holders of a valid permit under the Concealed Handgun Permit Act; and
  • Peace officers.

The issuing law enforcement agency has three days to determine whether the applicant is prohibited under federal, state, or local law from purchasing or possessing a handgun.

Nebraska is a “shall issue” state, which means if the applicant meets the statutory criteria, the applicant is issued a certificate to purchase. The law enforcement agency taking the application cannot refuse to issue a certificate based on any subjective criteria. If the certificate is denied, persons must be provided the reasons in writing and can appeal the decision to the county court.

Handgun certificates are good for three years from the date of issuance and allow the holder to purchase any number of handguns during this period, provided the holder continues to meet the legal requirements to purchase and possess handguns.

There are numerous instances for purchasers and firearms dealers to run afoul of state law when buying handguns.

These include:

  • Providing false information on the application for a handgun purchase certificate is a Class IV felony and violating any provisions
    of the handgun certificate process are Class I misdemeanors. Convictions of either offense can result in having your handgun confiscated.
  • Intentionally causing the State Patrol to conduct a background check specifically pertaining to mental health issues on persons not actually applying for a certificate to purchase a handgun or a consent form is a Class II misdemeanor.
  • Knowingly requesting a background check for any purpose other than for purchase of a handgun is a Class I misdemeanor.
  • Making a materially false oral or written statement or furnishing false identification by any person in connection with a handgun purchase or attempted purchase is a Class IV felony.
  • Selling a handgun in violation of state law by a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer is a Class IV felony.
  • Buying a handgun for a person known to be prohibited by law from buying or possessing a handgun is a Class IV felony.
  • Finally, state law does not prohibit municipalities from enacting stricter handgun provisions. Omaha and Lincoln are among municipalities that impose additional handgun regulations within their jurisdictions. Among its provisions, Lincoln requires licensed dealers to report handgun sales occurring in the city to the police department. Omaha requires handgun sales in the city to be approved by the police and requires residents and visitors alike to register handguns possessed within the city limits.

NOTE: Having a Nebraska handgun purchase certificate does not legally give the handgun owner the right to Conceal and Carry.   You have to take a Nebraska state approved Nebraska Concealed Carry Class.


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