Special legislative session is more about politics than gun safety

Published 11:09 am Friday, August 25, 2023

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In Tennessee, it is much easier to ban books from school libraries than it is to ban guns from our schools.
In a special Tennessee legislative session this week called by Gov. Bill Lee earlier this year to initially discuss and enact laws on banning firearms from school, legislators have done very little in the way of gun control. In fact, the governor had watered down his to-do list before it ever got to the legislature. His list had more to do with mental health than it did gun control.
Some claim the governor’s call for the special session was an emotional reaction to the Covenant School shooting in Nashville in which a friend of the governor and his wife was killed.
And, the Republican-controlled legislature did not want to hear what the public had to say about stricter gun control measures nor did they want anyone protesting their actions nor parading signs of protest in the House gallery. Earlier in the week three activists were ordered removed from a House committee hearing for holding paper signs supporting gun reform. The residents were removed by state troopers after being told to lower paper signs and not clap during the House subcommittee hearing.
However, a Davidson County judge issued a temporary restraining order the next day against the TN House of Representatives, blocking the chamber’s new rule barring signs in the galleries.
Lest we forget, government is by the people and for the people and not for a select few lawmakers.
We admit the Republican-led House in Tennessee is sticking up for their constituents, many of whom base ballot decisions on support of the absolute right to bear arms. The gun lobby doesn’t spend heavily on legislative races, but pro-gun voters are a critical ingredient in Republican elections.
People back home don’t want their gun rights taken from them. Thus, rank and file Republicans are dead set against a “red flag law,” which would ban a person at risk of harming themselves or others from possessing a gun.
Gun control is an emotional issue in Tennessee, but we all know that guns kill when an unstable or angry person pulls the trigger, and it happens all too often.
Any drive to tighten Tennessee’s gun laws has been squelched by a Republican supermajority in one of the nation’s most gun-friendly states, even as a recent poll of Tennessee voters showed significant bipartisan support for various gun regulations.
Even the Governor stepped back from using the word “gun” in his official proclamation identifying 18 potential topics, from school safety to juvenile justice to mental health, and it mentions “firearms” only in relation to measures that would encourage safe storage of weapons, but with no new penalties allowed.
At the invitation of a coalition of Christian groups, hundreds of people encircled the Capitol building to pray for passage of meaningful gun restrictions. We haven’t seen the effect of those prayers, but we know that there is power in prayer.
Again, as one mother of a student said, “We’re quick to yank books off library shelves, or limit how students can dress. Why are guns impossible?”
David Crockett and Daniel Boone carried their guns not only for protection, but as a necessary means of putting food on the table…I wonder what they would say about the use of guns in our society today…innocent kids gunned downs in our school, innocent people gunned down on our streets and in places of commerce.
One day, the issue may come back to haunt us and our local community. We pray not. But, other communities didn’t think it wouldn’t happen there. No community is immune from gun violence.
We cannot afford to be complacent or indifferent to this public health crisis. One of the most effective ways to prevent gun deaths and injuries is to enact laws that keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves or others. For those fighting for more gun safety laws, don’t give up.

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