Op-ed claims passing red flag law start of "moral revival"

AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File

Tennessee is getting closer to having a special legislative session to look at potentially passing gun control. The top priority for Gov. Bill Lee is his red flag law proposal, which he keeps trying to say isn’t really a red flag bill despite it being, well, a red flag bill.

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Obviously, there are people who are glad to see it. There are people in every state who want gun control laws, after all. The only question is whether there are enough of them to matter.

So the op-ed machine is running throughout the state, hoping to convince enough people that this is a good thing that they’ll push their lawmakers to support Lee’s proposals.

Yet some of them are as cringe as they come.

Take this one, titled, “Passing a red-flag gun law could be the start of a moral revival.”

No, it doesn’t get better when you get into the op-ed itself.

“That’s right,” said the customer service rep, “Tires go flat all the time. There’s not a whole heck of a lot we can do about it. I don’t really see any role we can play but to mess things up.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Isn’t it your job to help?”

“Well, sure, we could come out there and change your tire, but it’s more important to change people’s hearts and minds. Like we say in our church on Sunday, what we need is a moral revival in this country.”

By now, you may realize this isn’t a real conversation with my auto club. It is a loose paraphrase of U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett’s response to the question of what Congress can do to prevent mass shootings like the one that happened March 27 at the Covenant School in Nashville that killed three adults and three children.

Except it’s an absurd paraphrase.

Your auto club is specifically contracted to come in and make repairs to your vehicle such as changing tires. Trying to address mass shootings is a very different animal, and Burchett saying the government could mess things up isn’t dodging the issue, it’s the absolute truth. We’ve seen government create bigger problems than they were trying to solve before, after all.

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Moreover, a flat tire is something that can just happen with no intention on the part of anyone, so a moral revival would be irrelevant in preventing such a thing.

Mass murder, however, requires someone to want to kill as many people as possible. While I don’t think any moral revival will make such a thing go away entirely, it could reduce them significantly.

Oh, but the writer isn’t done being ridiculous.

Fortunately, Gov. Bill Lee has taken a different approach to the tragedy. The governor has called a special session of the Tennessee Legislature for Aug. 21 to address the problem of gun violence in our state. No one is certain what kind of new laws might come out of the session, but doing something is preferable to doing nothing.

Doing something is preferable to doing nothing? Not necessarily. Not when the solution creates bigger problems than it might have solved, and red flag laws have massive problems. Even Lee’s proposal, which does address some of the due process concerns, still allows dangerous people to continue walking around free to commit horrific acts–and a gun isn’t needed to kill a lot of people, as we saw when a terrorist used a truck in Nice, France.

The author, a Universalist Unitarian pastor, wraps up by saying:

If you ever get a flat tire and your road service provider tells you, “We’re not gonna fix this,” then I recommend joining a new auto club. In similar fashion, we should demand quality service from our government. So contact your elected leaders and tell them to do something, not nothing. Online commentators are predicting that the legislature will refuse to act. However, I am open to the possibility that there will be a change of hearts and minds. New public safety legislation could signal the beginning of a moral revival in our country.

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If that sparks what anyone considers a moral revival, I don’t want any part of it.

My rights are my rights, regardless of what someone else considers moral. My sense of morality dictates how I exercise those rights, but they don’t allow me to dictate what rights others have. Moreover, while some aspects of mortality such as not murdering people are universally agreed upon, there are other avenues where morality is more debatable.

So I’m not interested in any so-called moral revival that is premised not on those universal morals such as people internalizing not committing murder is a “moral revival” I want no part of.

One sparked by passing a red flag law is most definitely in that camp.

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