Tennessee officials still skeptical over red flag laws

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

In the wake of the shooting at a Nashville school, there are a lot of people talking about gun control. Unsurprisingly, I might add.

One popular measure is a red flag law.


On Monday, protests throughout Tennessee hoped to advance gun control, such as these laws. However, it appears there’s significant skepticism over them among many Republicans.

Inside the capitol, Gov. Bill Lee held a press conference focused on policies that strengthen school security, largely through the addition of armed guards.

Among Lee’s proposals, some of which were announced after the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, are ensuring doors remain locked, placing armed security guards at more schools and providing additional mental health resources.

When asked whether he would also support a red flag law, allowing courts to confiscate weapons from people who pose a public threat, Gov. Lee was noncommittal.

“I’m asking the General Assembly to bring forth a number of proposals, to look at any proposal on the table that will accomplish what I think is most important — keeping those that are a danger away from weapons and protecting Constitutional rights,” said Lee.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton, appearing alongside the governor, was more skeptical.

“All it is is a way to take away guns,” said Sexton. “No aspect of any red flag law that I’ve seen yet, if you can find one please share it with me, that has them to go for treatment for their mental health.”

Sexton is absolutely correct.

The most a red flag law will do is disarm someone that made another uncomfortable. While it’s easy to look in hindsight and claim that such a law would help, I have my doubts in most cases, but especially in this one.


Further, as Sexton noted, there’s nothing about a red flag law that mandates treatment. They leave supposedly dangerous people walking around on the streets, with no treatment.

Meanwhile, people who represent no threat to anyone can find themselves jammed up and lose their guns because someone thinks they’re a danger simply due to owning guns or some other equally ridiculous reason. As long as they don’t articulate it that way, there’s a very real chance the order will be granted.

And if you can’t see what that’s a bad thing, you’re too blind to have a useful opinion on literally anything else in this world.

Red flag laws aren’t the fix many want to believe them to be.

At most, they’ll push people away from talking about very real problems out of fear they’ll find themselves getting hit with such an order. That means people won’t talk about those problems and may well end up taking their own life because of it.

Folks, I’m sorry, but red flag laws aren’t the fix.

Instead, we really need to look at why these things happen. We need a deep understanding of the psychology involved in these shootings and then we need to take steps to get these potential shooters the help so that we don’t have these debates anymore.

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