Following the Nashville shooting, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee proposed his own version of a red flag law. It’s not as invasive as some–there are no due process concerns with it, really, as an example–but it still has issues.
Of course, that doesn’t matter to most people in the wake of a mass shooting. They just want action and they want it right now.
Lee is going through the steps now, and part of that was public comment on the measure, as well as other potential points of gun control.
Nearly 10,000 people submitted feedback on potential gun and public safety legislation in the first two weeks following Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s announcement of his plans to call a special legislative session on Aug. 21.
Lee’s office promoted an online portal calling for public feedback on the special session, when lawmakers are expected to grapple with potential gun reform and public safety issues in the wake of the deadly Covenant School shooting last spring.
A majority of the input called for changes to Tennessee gun laws, mirroring state and national polling trends indicating a bipartisan majority of Tennesseans support increased gun restrictions.
In the feedback to the governor’s office, many supported safe storage laws, expanded background checks and banning assault-style weapons, while those opposed to new laws expressed concern about opening the door for increased regulations down the road.
The Tennessean obtained through a public records request 9,850 submissions to the feedback portal and sorted entries as generally supportive of additional legislation around firearms or generally opposing new measures. More than 7,100 people expressed support for additional gun reform, with more than 2,000 opposing any additional laws regulating firearms in Tennessee. Several hundred entries did not fall into either category due to their content or lack of specificity.
That is somewhat troubling, but it might not mean what is being argued here.
The truth is that those most likely to reach out for comment are those who are in favor of such measures. Gun rights supporters, by contrast, are probably more likely to reach out directly to their lawmakers instead.
Remember that this isn’t polling where people are chosen at random. Yes, it supposedly mirrors some polling, but even there, it doesn’t account for quite how passionate people are about the issue.
Typing a few words is one thing, but voting for a completely different party that doesn’t represent any other values is quite another, and that’s what would actually have to happen in order for it to actually matter in upcoming elections.
Yet there is something interesting about Tennessee’s red flag proposal and it’s one that should be troubling. In particular, the fact that it doesn’t act first and then provide due process later on down the road. That makes it better than many of the other red flag laws on the books.
This means it’s far more likely to survive a legal challenge on due process grounds.
The question then becomes how long before someone under one of these red flag orders finds another way to kill a bunch of people very quickly.
Until that happens, I can see this measure pop up in a lot of other states and face a much higher chance of it passing than what we have in most states, and that’s troubling. In the meantime, if you’re a TN gun owner you should make your thoughts known to the governor here.