Nebraska Gaming Board Spent $30K on Semi-Automatic Weapons

Posted on: January 22, 2024, 03:24h. 

Last updated on: January 22, 2024, 06:55h.

The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission (NRGC) spent $30,351 on semi-automatic rifles for its 10 investigators, The Lincoln Journal Star reports.

Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission, NRGC, SIG MPX rifles
The SIG MPX rifle, which the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission says will protect the public against active shooters, was prioritized over the purchase of vehicles for its new investigators. (Image: Shooting Illustrated)

The purchase has raised eyebrows in Lincoln, the state capital. Some lawmakers have questioned whether it’s strictly necessary for an agency tasked with enforcing gaming regulations in the state’s new casino industry to pack fully outfitted SIG Sauer MPX rifles with laser sights.

The additional revelation that the weapons were purchased before the agency bought any new vehicles for its expanded team may have caused even more strain to the eyebrows of Lincoln politicians. The agency currently has just two cars, according to the Journal Star.

Before the advent of casinos in 2022, when the NRGC was focused solely on regulating horse racing, it had just one investigator. Now, its ranks have swelled tenfold.

‘Active Shooter Threat’

NRGC investigator Steve Eppens was forced to defend the purchase to the Journal Star this week. He said that in the event of an active shooter in a casino or racetrack, NRGC agents would have “a duty to intervene and eliminate the threat.”

“We’re in this profession to protect the public. That’s what we do,” he added.

A shoulder-fired rifle, like the SIG MPX, is more accurate than a handgun in such an emergency, minimizing the risk to innocent bystanders, Eppens told the Journal Star.

Meanwhile, Eppens emphasized that all NRGC investigators are considered deputy state sheriffs under state law and have the power to make arrests.

Tried to Cancel

When questions started being raised in the state capitol building, records show that Eppens tried to cancel the order.

I just received a directive from my director that we need to suspend our order of the SIG MPX’s effective immediately,” he wrote to the supplier in November. “There has [sic] been some political issues that have surfaced regarding purchase of equipment and its deployment.

“Our hope is we can work through this and revisit the order of these rifles soon, as they are a very important piece of equipment for the protection of the public, as well as officer safety,” he wrote.

But it was too late. The supplier couldn’t cancel the order because the guns were being custom-fitted, and the work had already begun.