GOP gun fight: Senate hopeful Osborn comes out firing, rivals not so much


Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

In a race where key policy differences between the four GOP Senate hopefuls are hard to come by, a Nebraska Watchdog probe has triggered some daylight.

UNO policy prohibits “possession of deadly weapons” on university property

As the candidates prepare for Wednesday’s (tonight’s) third and final debate, specific questions regarding the 2nd Amendment and a recent weapons case find Shane Osborn pushing for fewer gun controls while his three rivals are standing pat or just not answering.

At issue is the March arrest of 20-year-old Ned McNally, a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

McNally is charged with a felony, facing up to five years in prison and a $10 thousand fine, accused of having several weapons and dozens of rounds of ammunition in his campus dorm room.

He’s also apparently in violation of UNO policy which prohibits “the possession of deadly weapons” on university property.

Gun fight: Shane Osborn, Ben Sasse, Sid Dinsdale and Bart McLeay (left to right)

Nebraska Watchdog has asked all four Senate candidates, all of whom profess to be staunch defenders of the right to bear arms, about the law and UNO’s gun restrictions.

Osborn came out firing.

“The student in question and all students for that matter should be able to lawfully store firearms and ammunition in their dorms rooms,” said Osborn. He then added “these types of bans only punish law abiding citizens.”

Bart McLeay tells Nebraska Watchdog he’s OK with the policy, at least for now, while Sid Dinsdale and Ben Sasse are mum.

Sasse, considered by many a front runner in the race along with Osborn, issued a short statement to Nebraska Watchdog.

“Ben has been endorsed by the Gun Owners of America because he’s a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment,” said Sasse’s spokesman.

But in the same breath the spokesman added, “We have no comment on the policies of UNO.”

Sasse, of course, is President of Midland University in Fremont. And according to Nebraska Watchdog’s investigation, Midland’s gun policy closely mirrors UNO’s.

This year’s Midland Student Handbook states:

Unauthorized use, possession, or storage of any weapon (other than in an approved locale for selected weapons) on campus constitutes a campus violation. No handgun is allowed on the Midland University campus, nor will such a weapon be stored. All weapons are strictly prohibited in students’ rooms and elsewhere on campus.

McLeay told Nebraska Watchdog he was not aware of any proposals permitting guns or ammunition in dorm rooms,

Bart McLeay: Since I haven’t been presented with such a proposal I don’t see a basis for change.

Nebraska Watchdog: So the policy that says a university can prohibit students from having guns or ammunition in their dorms, you’re OK with that?

Bart McLeay: I don’t see a reason to make any change to the UNO policy that does not allow for guns or ammunition in a dormitory room. I would agree that we need to support the 2nd Amendment to the fullest extent possible on even college campuses if it would mean for example allowing retired police officers under an enhanced concealed carry certificate.

Dinsdale has not responded to Nebraska Watchdog’s questions.

The GOP primary is May 13.

McNally is scheduled to appear in Douglas County court April 23 for a pre-trial hearing.

Contact Joe Jordan at Omaha.

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