Bruen might thwart Tennessee special session on gun control

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Following the shooting at a Nashville school, the previously pro-gun governor decided what the state needed was some gun control. There wasn’t much chance of that happening, mind you, but he wanted to push it anyway.


In fact, he called a special session of the legislature just to address the issue.

However, it seems that in some circles, there’s concern that Bruen might prevent much of anything from happening.

Tennessee lawmakers hoping to take on gun control in an August special session could face hurdles from a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that is now causing turmoil in courts across the country.

The so-called Breun decision in June 2022 overturned a New York law limiting the right to carry guns in public and has since sparked hundreds of legal challenges to gun laws, with varying opinions from judges.

While gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association have lauded the ruling as a major win for the Second Amendment, others say it’s causing more legal questions than answers.

“There’s a lot of confusion and a lot of chaos right now,” said Janet Carter, senior director of issues and appeals at Everytown Law, a gun control nonprofit. “Supreme Court decisions are supposed to provide clarity and certainty, but instead what we see is decisions just going all over the palace.”

Here in Tennessee, the ruling has already impacted the state’s permitless carry law and it could affect the governor’s push for an emergency protective order law in the wake of the Covenant School shooting, as a local gun rights group has said it plans to sue if the state passes new legislation.

Gun control advocates hope to see clarity from an upcoming Supreme Court case out of Texas that would be the first to test the ruling, but for now, states in some cases have been left scrambling to change their laws.


Now, to be fair, challenges for red flag laws have survived plenty and Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal has fewer due process concerns than most.

That said, I don’t think there have been any challenges to red flag laws post-Bruen, which might well change everything.

The truth is that most gun control laws were always unconstitutional. The Bruen decision’s text and history test is testimony to that. After all, efforts to defend gun control measures have come up short because no one can find historical gun control laws similar to those being challenged.

A red flag law isn’t likely to fare any better.

That, however, is ultimately a good thing. There are other ways to address potentially dangerous people besides just taking their guns and leaving them to go about their way, potentially finding other ways to kill people.

I get that Lee was impacted by the shooting in Nashville, having known a couple of the victims. I’m genuinely sympathetic. I mean, I’ve been there. In the wake of something like that, you want to do something. I was a newspaper publisher at the time. All I could do was talk about what happened. Lee is a governor and he can do a lot more.


The problem is, what he’s wanting to do is wrong.

So, if Bruen puts the kibosh on this, so much the better.

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