Legislating without understanding the motive: TN Gov. Bill Lee gropes around in the dark

(Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal via AP, Pool)

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s special session to pass new gun control legislation is underway. In my opinion, this session has bad optics and politics for the Second Amendment side. Whether we like it or not, whether we call out the chicanery and emotional manipulation or not, the sight of women (rightfully) getting booted out for breaking the rules and then crying about it generates sympathy in a significant part of the public that votes. And that public reaction is the exact outcome the gun controllers are working towards.


Don’t believe me? Recall what happened in Colorado after Sandy and Lonnie Phillips lost their lawsuit against Lucky Gunner for selling the ammunition the Aurora, CO shooter used. It was predictable from the start that the lawsuit was meritless and the parents would lose. As expected, the parents lost and had to file for bankruptcy as they owed over $200,000 in legal fees to Lucky Gunner’s attorneys. The gun control group Brady used the grieving parents to file this lawsuit and left them holding the bag when they lost the case. As Tom wrote earlier this year,

Then, when it goes absolutely nowhere–which the gun control groups should know would be the case–folks in places with laws like Colorado are left holding the bag.

Brady has much deeper pockets than the Phillips did. It has the resources to have tried to make this right but opted to do no such thing.

Instead, they engage in the disgusting and likely predatory tactic of convincing people to file forlorn lawsuits, then abandoning them when it fizzles.

The parents’ bankruptcy generated media buzz, and Colorado’s legislature swooped in and did exactly what the gun control movement wanted in response to the parents losing the meritless lawsuit: they weakened protections for the firearms industry against meritless lawsuits. As reported in The Hill:


A third measure passed by the legislature will strengthen the state’s red flag law, and a fourth rolls back some legal protections for the firearm industry, exposing them to lawsuits from the victims of gun violence.


In their speeches about rolling back legal protections for gun manufacturers, lawmakers looked often to Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was slain in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting. The parents tried to sue the companies that had sold the shooter ammunition and tear gas but were unsuccessful. Ultimately, the couple ended up owing more than $200,000 in defense attorney fees and had to file for bankruptcy.

The methods were disgusting, but the gun control movement got what they wanted, thanks to the poor optics of bankrupt, grieving parents. 

The gun controllers are trying to replicate that in Tennessee. The tactics are similar. Get grieving families out front and use them as props, make sure they break some rules and get kicked out, film them crying, and make the legislature look bad for standing by the Constitution.

There’s this saying attributed to Aristotle that, “The law is reason, free from passion.” The legislature is acting according to that, looking at the situation with reason, leaving emotion out of the equation. That’s their duty and they are performing it correctly, going so far as to tell the Governor they won’t tag along. But that won’t be enough.


To counter the immense political and manipulative media pressure they’re under, they need to point at the missing manifesto and refuse to cooperate until it is released. The motivation for this special session is to find solutions to prevent a repeat of the Covenant School shooting. But without understanding the assailant’s motive, how is that even possible? 

Tennessee’s legislators need to tell the Governor, the gun control authoritarians and the media: “No manifesto, no new gun control law.”

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