The attorney for former Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey argued in a hearing Thursday that the misdemeanor charge Stacey faces is unconstitutional.
Judge Susan Bazis did not make a decision Thursday on attorney James Martin Davis' motion to quash, saying she would consider the matter and issue a decision soon.
Stacey is charged under a Nebraska law that makes it a Class I misdemeanor in most cases to sell, lease, rent or transfer a handgun to someone who doesn't have a proper certificate.
Stacey has said he lent one of his handguns to former Gretna City Administrator Colleen Lawry. Prosecutors said Lawry lacked the certificate. An investigator seized a .38-caliber Taurus handgun from Lawry's home May 4.
Both Stacey and Lawry are charged. A Class I misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.
Lawry was fired in May and charged with felony theft of between $500 and $1,500. Authorities accuse her of using money from a Gretna senior citizens fund for personal use.
Stacey was placed on administrative leave in early May, accused of uttering an inappropriate remark at the fire department on April 30. He later resigned from his job as police chief.
In court Thursday afternoon, Davis said Nebraska's handgun law is overbroad and violates the state and federal constitutions. It requires someone to get a certificate from their sheriff or police chief to legally receive a firearm in most cases.
The Nebraska Constitution says a person can keep and bear arms for self-defense. But it takes up to three days for a permit to be issued. Davis said that interferes with people defending themselves.
“It's a question of time. It's a question of urgency,” Davis said. “Most of these needs are immediate.”
Deputy County Attorney Nicole R. Hutter did not agree. If someone was in immediate danger, she said, the owner of the weapon would probably not leave the threatened person alone.
In a post-hearing meeting with reporters, Davis and Stacey would not say why Stacey lent Lawry the gun.
“We'll save that for the trial,” the former police chief said.
Thursday's hearing was in Sarpy County Court, but Bazis is a Douglas County judge. Sarpy County judges recused themselves because of Stacey's longtime law enforcement career there.
Contact the writer: