TN Republicans cautiously supporting call for gun control

AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File

Tennessee has a reputation as a pretty pro-gun state. It seemed for a long time that there was no chance of any gun control measure passing there. No chance at all


Yet now the Republican governor has called for gun control. It’s just red flag laws, which isn’t as bad as some things, but it’s plenty bad enough.

Now, it seems that at least some of the Republican leadership are open to the idea.

Two weeks after thousands of protesters descended upon the State Capitol in support of stricter gun laws, Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) announced he’s pushing for an “order of protection” law to prevent people law enforcement proves are threatening from purchasing guns.

“It won’t solve all the problems,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said. “But I think it will take a good step forward.”

Though Lee may run into one big roadblock—his own party.

In the last few years, much of the Republican supermajority has been starkly against any sort of gun restriction.

“We need to be very, very careful,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) said. “I do not support anything that does not include full due process.”

Johnson, the de-facto second-in-command in the Senate, said he supports Lee’s order of protection law, but it’s a delicate balance because he wants to preserve Second Amendment rights.

The problem is that there’s really no way I can see for a red flag law not to step on due process, among other things. In order to work as it’s supposed to and take guns from someone as quickly as possible, there’s really little chance of due process being observed.

The fact that there’s even a discussion like this is troubling.

Democrats, however, are excited by it. They’re thrilled to see still more opportunity to erode people’s Second Amendment rights.


However, it’s going to require more than a bit of openness from the Senate majority leader to make it happen. Tennessee’s legislature is heavily Republican. In order to pass such a measure, WKRN figures it would take, “at least roughly 25% of Republicans in the House, nearly 30% of Republicans in the Senate, and every Democrat to agree.”

That’s a pretty tall order, to say the least.

All of that is for a measure that isn’t guaranteed to work but could well be misused to hurt innocent, law-abiding citizens.

After all, Colorado has a red flag law. It didn’t stop Colorado Springs from suffering a mass shooting, but at least one person tried to use the law to disarm someone she had a beef with. How many others slipped through the cracks on both ends?

No, red flag laws aren’t the answer, but if Republicans in Tennessee remain open to gun control at all, they might get stuck with them just the same.

That’s not good, for them or for Tennessee.

I get Lee’s desire to do something. He lost people he knew in that shooting and that can change things a whole lot in someone’s mind when that happens. It doesn’t change reality, though, and these laws aren’t nearly as effective as proponents claim.

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