LINCOLN — A Dawson County man lost a legal effort Friday to overturn an order barring him from possessing guns during a probation term for second-offense drunken driving.

Larry Paulsen, 59, of Cozad was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 24 months of intensive supervised probation in January 2018 as part of a plea bargain that reduced an initial charge of felony, third-offense drunken driving to a lesser, second-offense charge, which is a misdemeanor.

Among the conditions of probation imposed by Dawson County District Judge James Doyle was one that ordered Paulsen to “not have or associate with anyone who has possession of firearms, ammunition or illegal weapons.”

Seven months after he was sentenced, Paulsen, an avid hunter and gun collector, appealed that condition of probation. He argued that his possession of guns had nothing to do with his drunken-driving offense and that because he had no history of violent conduct and had complied with all conditions of his probation to that point, his gun rights should be restored.

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Prosecutors in Dawson County also stipulated that they had no objection to amending the probation order, said Lincoln attorney Chris Ferdico, who handled Paulsen’s appeal.

But Doyle denied the request to modify Paulsen’s probationary ban on guns, which prompted the appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court.

The high court’s 12-page ruling on Friday upheld the lower court’s ruling, but did not address the heart of Paulsen’s appeal — that gun possession played no role in his DUI conviction. The Supreme Court ruled that his objection to the gun ban should have been raised at the time of sentencing, not months later.

Ferdico, Paulsen’s appeal counsel, said the judgment was not a total loss. For the first time, he said, the Supreme Court recognized that a person can appeal the terms of a probation sentence.

Court records indicate that Paulsen’s guns have been locked in a room for the duration of his probation term, with the only key being held by probation officials.

Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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