Conservative Lawmakers Urge Governor Lee To Abandon Plans For Special Session To Enact Unconstitutional ‘Red Flag’ Laws

Image Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Tennessee State Representative Bryan Richey (R-Maryville-District 20) has penned an open letter to Governor Bill Lee asking him to not call legislators back to Nashville on August 21st to enact an unconstitutional ‘Red Flag’ law.

Representative Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill-District 92) and Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma-District 16) have signed the letter upon this article’s publication.  More Conservative-leaning Republicans are expected to sign on in time.

Representative Ed Butler’s (R-Rickman-District 41) name was on the list but it has been removed. His office said Butler’s intentions to sign were “miscommunicated.”

House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland-District 44) told WKRN that Rep. Richey’s statement “absolutely does not” speak for the entire House Republican Caucus.

“If our Governor calls the legislature back into a special session to discuss any issue, the Republican Caucus will certainly be ready, willing and able to debate the best way forward for our state,  just as we have done in five previous special sessions. We will continue to defend and preserve civil rights while ensuring every community is safer than it is today,” Lamberth said.

Meanwhile, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville-District 55) stated that his caucus is “ready to get work” in Lee’s Special Session.

Clemmons said, “Tennesseans overwhelmingly support gun safety laws to better protect our children and communities and want legislative action. Democrats agree and stand ready to get to work. As usual, the only thing standing in the way to public safety is the Republican supermajority.”

Governor Lee has invited Tennesseans to submit their feedback about the upcoming special session HERE.  

Richey’s Open Letter to Governor Lee reads as follows:

Governor, on behalf of myself and my colleagues listed below, we urge you to abandon the special session you have proposed for August  21, in response to The Covenant School tragedy, because the General Assembly can further consider and discuss legitimate measures to  improve public safety when the legislature reconvenes in January 2024. Summoning legislators to Nashville to enact an unconstitutional  “red flag” law will not, as you suggest, “strengthen public safety and preserve constitutional rights.” To the contrary, the General  Assembly adamantly opposes—and has refused to enact–measures that violate Tennesseans’ Second Amendment rights, whether styled  “order of protection” legislation or any other euphemism. 

Out of respect for the Second Amendment and Art. I, Section 26 of the Tennessee Constitution, the General Assembly has declined to  adopt measures that would allow the confiscation of lawful firearms from citizens without due process. Such legislation would be  blatantly unconstitutional under the controlling Supreme Court precedent New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022).  We will not violate our oath to uphold the Constitution for political expediency or to curry favor with special interests. At the same time,  we have supported your initiatives to enhance the security of Tennessee’s schools, to deter future incidents like the horror that occurred at  Covenant on March 27, 2023. 

As you know, the 113th General Assembly adjourned its 2023 session without passing your proposed “red flag” law, and House  Republicans have emphatically expressed their opposition to such measures in the future. Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson has flatly  stated that “the Tennessee General Assembly will not pass any red flag law, period.” Accordingly, your proposed special session,  apparently calculated to pressure legislators to pass such a law, strikes us as an expensive, disruptive, futile, and counter-productive  publicity stunt. The Covenant tragedy would not have been averted by a “red flag” law in any event. Your proposed special session is a  solution in search of a problem. 

We can strengthen our criminal penalties and protect our people at any time. It does not require a special session—a session that will be a  political event to put pressure on conservative Republicans to grow government and ignore the will of their constituents in service to the  national woke mob that will descend on the Capitol. Press reports indicate that left-wing activists are planning to use the proposed special  session to stage disruptive protests that will make the “Tennessee Three” circus look like a dress rehearsal. Heavy security will be  necessary to protect legislators from unruly agitators. Why would you want to provide a platform for such political theatre? 

It is true that the Governor has the constitutional prerogative to call a special session. It is in our view wholly inappropriate to do so when  the legislature, which has a supermajority of Members of the same political party as the Governor, has voted to adjourn. There is no  emergency, declared or otherwise, that justifies calling us back to work in August. The reason is a series of policy proposals that we, as a  legislative body, deliberately—and prudently–chose to reject this session. If interparty comity is being put aside to pressure fellow  Republicans to embrace gun control measures, we still have a remaining duty to demand respect for the separation of powers.  The Governor has already proposed and we have already disposed. Hopefully, in January, we can continue our work together to make  Tennessee safe, prosperous, and free. 


About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

8 thoughts on “Conservative Lawmakers Urge Governor Lee To Abandon Plans For Special Session To Enact Unconstitutional ‘Red Flag’ Laws

  • May 25, 2023 at 11:40 am

    All an individual has to do is to take a gander at all the criminals that push Un-Constitutional Red Flag Laws. Maybe Lee takes his marching orders from Gavin Newsom ?
    Perhaps Bill is just illiterate when it comes to the US Constitution ?
    Bill Lee only listens to himself and not his superiors, the voter. Either way, if he rolls along to get along, his legacy may be – I destroyed the good State of Tennessee.
    People should listen to the words of Edmund Burke, to name one. Those words also appear at the end of the film, “Tears of the Sun”.

    • June 1, 2023 at 4:34 pm

      1. I did not realize there were any conservatives in the Tn legislature
      2. Randy McNally is the top chamber of commerce buffoon in our statehouse
      3. It would great if he were primaried out of office
      4. What part of “…shall not be infringed…” does Bendover Billy not comprehend?
      5. Only a marxist would support ignoring due process, proved by the number of bureaucrats and politicians who think their way is the only way.
      6. The current Illegal asset forfeiture & seizure policy would be trampled out if we had conservatives in the statehouse

  • May 25, 2023 at 11:54 am

    On Novemver 5, 2018 a 61-year old Maryland man was killed by police officers who attempted to seize his firearm under a red-flag order. “Gary J. Willis isn’t dead because he tried to shoot someone. He is dead because someone convinced a judge that he might shoot someone.” (See Arguably, red-flag laws are ripe for abuse.

    Finally, there are law-abiding citizens albeit a relatively small number who will violently resist any efforts by law enforcement officers to have his legally-owned firearm(s) seized using a blatantly unfair and illegal procedure. If a red-flag law is put into place don’t be surprised if police officers are injured or killed trying to enforce a red-flag order.

  • May 25, 2023 at 6:15 pm

    Bill Lee and Sam Whitson are treasonous RINOs who love it when perverts murder Christians because it gives them an excuse to take guns from Christians so they can’t defend themselves against Lee and Whitson’s beloved left wing terrorist perverts.

    Remember, when you see a “Lee Company” truck, you’re looking at the symbol of anti Christian hate.

  • May 25, 2023 at 9:22 pm

    Hope letter gets lots of signers but given the numbers of RINOs infesting TN Legislature I’m doubting many will.

  • May 26, 2023 at 12:06 am

    It’s smart to throw the Libs a bone to take away their argument that Repubs are extremists. If they take control we’re totally screwed. If someone is crazy and their family says they are, they should NOT have a gun- that’s common sense. Ignoring Common Sense is a bad idea. The way I read it, the bill would only take guns from someone whose family or the police say is crazy. If you aren’t crazy, don’t worry about it.

  • May 26, 2023 at 1:55 am

    Ban Red Flag or get out of office.

  • May 27, 2023 at 4:31 pm

    If this law pass’s it will turn police into agents of tyranny. All bets are off then.


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