Tennessee Anti-Gunners Desperate to Claim Legislative Wins

AP Photo/Michael Hill

When you're an advocacy group that seeks legislative change, it's important to show that you're accomplishing something. No one likes a loser, and when there are a lot of groups trying to create the same change, if you can't show results, people will start donating money elsewhere.


Why waste money, even on advocacy, when you're getting no return at all?

In Tennessee, though, anti-gun groups have a problem. They had a lot of momentum immediately following the Covenant School shooting, only to see it come to nothing during the special session that soon followed.

But they need to find wins, and so we have an op-ed that seeks to pretend that they're actually accomplishing something in the Volunteer State.

After over a decade of weakening our firearm safety laws, this is the first year we didn’t go backward.

Instead, lawmakers voted down top priorities of the Tennessee Firearms Association (TFA) and passed the first substantive restriction on firearm possession since 2009.

Now, those who are convicted of violent crimes as juveniles won’t be able to legally possess firearms until age 25 (an effective policy as data shows those ages 18-20 are most likely to commit firearm homicide and are at an elevated risk of firearm suicide).

 Safer TN was also part of a coalition that stopped legislation to allow the permitless open carry of loaded long guns – including AR-15s – in public spaces, as well as a bill that would have allowed handgun carry permit holders to carry openly or concealed in K-12 public schools.

Now, I'll grant them that the measure involving juvenile offenders would count as a win for their side. I have issue with it because if we're going to tell people that their juvenile records are sealed at a certain age, then seal them. Don't pick and choose when it applies like this.


Obviously, some disagree and so yeah, that's a legitimate win.

Yet let's look at the rest of what we have, starting with what we see above.

While I firmly believe I should be able to carry whatever I want whenever I want without a permit, the truth is that waltzing around with AR-15s in public spaces isn't overly popular, in part because too many people do it to try to make a point versus anything else. There was never a great deal of political will for such a measure.

Additionally, there was likely little will regarding allowing concealed carry in schools. While I favor it, most lawmakers aren't open to that. 

The result is that these two measure were unlikely to pass regardless of what efforts anti-gunners put into place. They can try to count it as a win, but that's like claiming the W because your rain dance worked. You might have done something and also gotten what you wanted, but that doesn't mean what you did actually worked.

We also helped increase our state’s background check funding to address a concerning backlog of more than 761,000 records.

We saw Republican Leader William Lamberth champion firearm safety legislation in honor of slain Belmont University student Jillian Ludwig to prohibit those deemed incompetent to stand trial from purchasing or possessing firearms; and Safer TN supported successful efforts to encourage Gov. Bill Lee to fund “Jillian’s Law.”


So these wins are an increase in funding to address background check backlogs--something that's generally going to be bipartisan anyway--and a bill that went nowhere?

Yeah, big win there, buddy.

Nope, teachers aren’t being armed willy-nilly in Tennessee

The bill that made national headlines, colloquially (but inaccurately) termed “arming teachers,” had numerous safety provisions added to it so that local school and law enforcement leadership could proactively opt out of the program.

These safeguards were included despite opposition from the TFA. Indeed, we’ve already seen at least 33 counties and school districts publicly announce they won’t be participating. Counter to the public perception that every Tennessee school will now have at least one armed teacher, it will likely be a handful of trained and approved school employees in rural counties where they’ve had a hard time hiring and retaining School Resource Officers.

This is hilarious considering that literally every anti-gunner was losing their mind in Tennessee over this very bill. 

Now that it's passed, though, they're trying to spin this as a win for their anti-gun agenda.

I'll acknowledge that it's not the bill I'd want, but that's not to say there won't be changes down the road. With so many schools announcing out of hand that they won't allow any teachers to undergo the training to carry lawfully, lawmakers may well make changes in the next few years to loosen those restrictions.


But those restrictions weren't touted by these people until just now. They were the ones who advanced the idea that there would be armed teachers everywhere, that schools had no say in the matter, and that Tennessee students would be constantly in danger due to dangerous teachers who would snap at the drop of a hat.

Now that it's a done deal, suddenly the limitations matter and that's all because of their hard work.


This is gaslighting at its finest, all in hopes that the gullible anti-gunners with deep pockets will keep giving them money and pretty much nothing else.

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