The poll that scuttles Tennessee Governor Lee’s red flag proposals

The poll that scuttles Tennessee Governor Lee’s red flag proposals
(Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal via AP, Pool)

Tennessee shouldn’t be in the limelight over freedom limiting proposals that are being tossed around. The Volunteer state became a permitless carry state in 2021, so one would figure that the politics within their state lines align with strong support of the Second Amendment. What’s this push from Governor Bill Lee to institute a so-called “red flag” law? I, much like many of the citizens of Tennessee, don’t agree with red flag seizure laws, and a recent poll supports that sentiment.


Co/efficient, who ran the poll, is a nationwide research and analytics company. They boast having over “30 years of experience in political, nonprofit, and corporate campaigns,” and among other services, offer “affordable research and intelligence.” 

According to their report, a survey was conducted from May 30th through June 1, 2023 and comprised “1,770 likely general election voters.” Their methodologies included data collection through text messaging and telephone interviews. It was noted that the survey respondents were “balanced by age, gender, education level, race, geography, and party affiliation of the true voting population.” The margin of error that co/efficient stated the survey had was +/- 3.07%

The key points of the survey listed that:

  • 84% of voters say a dangerous individual should be removed from the community rather than taking their guns and leaving the individual in the community
  • Support for Red Flag Laws drops 21% when voters are informed this leaves threatening individuals in the community, failing to prevent harm by some other means
  • Two-thirds of voters say current laws should be enforced to take dangerous people out of the community rather than passing new ones that would leave them in the neighborhood
  • 77% support the recently passed law adding police officers and physical security to schools

The information collected showed an overwhelming amount of support for putting the responsibility on individuals rather than an inanimate object. Governor Lee’s proposed “petition for a temporary mental health order of protection” law does not fall into favor with the people. Besides the measure not being to the taste and liking of the citizens the Governor is supposed to serve, such orders of protection are unconstitutional. Favoring the implementation of current laws and holding criminals accountable is about as common sense of an approach as there could be.


Granted, the proposed law by Lee would be an improvement on many states’ existing unconstitutional measures, however, replacing an awful law with one that’s less awful is not on the table. What’s on the table is the devolution of civil liberties in a state that should continue to push for a strong support of the Second Amendment by welcoming the repeal of liberty infringing policies. Unlike laws in states like New Jersey, the Gestapo is not going to kick in your door in the middle of the night in a no-knock raid under Lee’s proposal, but it would still be classified as “goose stepping lite.”

Not explicitly stating that people were polled on the issue, co/effecient’s memo observed that “moral decline, family instability, and risky behavior,” were to blame for the uptick in high profile shootings. Whether the report generator was editorializing or not, such opinions are consistent when asking informed persons such questions. It’s hard to tell if respondents were polled on the topic, as it seems that not all questions and results were published in tabulated form for review.

co/efficient’s statewide survey affirms that most Tennessee voters believe the increase in school shootings over the last three decades is due to moral decline, family instability, and risky behavior – not gun ownership. That’s why an overwhelming majority of Tennessee voters want threatening individuals removed from the home rather than enact proposed Red Flag Laws that allow for the confiscation of firearms but leave dangerous individuals in the community.


There’s certainly an increase in reporting on such events. Even if we turn to what many – myself included – would consider politically biased against the Second Amendment, Gun Violence Archive, the numbers – inflated or not – do tell a story. GVA claims that in 2023, to date, there have been 18,681 deaths involving firearms. Further, the site states there have been 23 deaths attributed to “mass murder…which is four or more KILLED” in a single incident. That means that .12% of deaths due to firearms in 2023 were from high profile mass murder events.

Normally I would not advocate using GVA’s numbers, they don’t need affirmation from clear seeing journalism. They’re biased and unreliable. I use them as an example here though, that even with their biased, inflated, and not necessarily confirmed by law enforcement reports findings, the numbers of such events are statistically low.

Mass casualty/murder events are tragic and in many other ways preventable, but the psychological effects of such horrific events paired with disproportionate media coverage creates an emotional trigger in sane people – as it should. The best way to aggregate the numbers is through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program and use them as a data source.

For most Americans, the veneer of what a red flag law is or does is not fully understood. A GOP lawmaker once admitted to me he was confused why constituents were mad at him for voting on a red flag law. He said that he was told the law would take guns away from domestic abusers and people who “beat their wives.” After explaining to the lawmaker why Second Amendment supporters would be irate over his support for such a measure, he went silent and said “oh,” understanding what that meant. The 21% reduction in support from those who initially said they were in favor is very telling about how these measures are always falsely advertised.


Prior to an informed ballot, voters show initial support for Red Flag Laws, with 62% in favor of the measure, including 57% of Republicans. However, support rapidly drops by 21 points, a full 1/3, after voters are informed that such laws leave dangerous people in the community and violate due process rights, with 49% reporting being less likely to support the measure, including 1-in-3 Democrats.

One of the stronger portions of the results of the poll revolves around the approval to increase security in educational institutions.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee received bipartisan support for the recent law signed to increase the physical security on school grounds and assign police officers to protect public and private schools, with 77% supporting this measure.

That strong support for bringing more of an armed presence to schools, is sound ideology and really the key to future mass casualty event mitigation in our educational systems. The citizen support of hardening schools in Tennessee puts them eons ahead of other states. Far too many jurisdictions still need to learn that there are programs and policies that can and will save lives in schools during a shooting. Those programs include uniformed and non-uniformed armed officers, armed faculty and teachers, instruction in non and less than lethal defense options for faculty, as well as very important training in trauma first aid for victims of gunshot wounds.

The crucial and immediate care people receive from those on scene saves lives. That sentiment was echoed by an emergency room doctor in a recent report.


“Everyone thinks the ER docs save the lives of gunshot victims, but that’s false,” said Dr. Peter Antevy, EMS medical director in Broward and Palm Beach counties and an emergency physician. “It’s everything that happens before someone gets to the ER. If you have an arterial bleed and pressure is not applied before you get to the ER you are not going to make it.”

The co/efficient poll really points out some important political information for Lee to take in and chew on. Even though the Governor was the one to sign into law permitless carry, we clearly can see that support for such measures does not equate to aligning with near Second Amendment absolutism. The numbers are not there to support such laws and the Governor should pay attention. The Governor should really know better, honestly. If he was smart enough to know that permitless carry is good policy, he should be smart enough to know that red flag laws are unconstitutional. Supporting big city progressive fascist measures in states like Tennessee could have Governors finding themselves surfing with the babes and bathwater, only to be tossed out.

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