Image Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Governor Bill Lee has finally officially made the call for a special legislative session to begin on August 21. The session comes in the wake of the March 27 shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville.
The session should last around a week, although it could go longer. A statement from the Governor’s office notes that the purpose of the session is to “keep Tennessee communities safe, support law enforcement and address mental health, all while preserving constitutional rights.”
While many expected Lee to push for “Extreme Risk Protection Orders”, also known as “red flag laws”, he only briefly mentioned guns in the list of focus items. Red flag laws would allow the courts to place a temporary ban on firearms for individuals who are determined to be a threat to themselves or to others.
Legislators already opted not to debate these orders of protection in the regular session. Although Lee is not actively and publicly pushing for them, based on his list of “focus items,” lawmakers could still propose such bills. However, reports say they would be unlikely to garner the needed to support to pass.
Lee says lawmakers will focus on increased mental health resources and promotion of safe storage of firearms, along with additional safety measures related to the TBI and other law enforcement agencies.
“As our nation faces evolving public safety threats, Tennessee remains vigilant and is taking continued action to protect communities while preserving the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Lee said.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton echoed those sentiments in a joint statement with House Majority Leader William Lamberth and House GOP Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison, “We look forward to the opportunity to strengthen public safety and mental health resources without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Groups such as the National Rifle Association, the National Association for Gun Rights, and the Tennessee Firearms Association have called for legislators to oppose gun control laws and to bring a quick end to the legislative session.
Dudley Brown, president of the NAGR, said, “We expect Tennessee Republicans to stand firm in their defense of the Second Amendment and vote to adjourn the special session upon its start in August.”
Democrats, however, have pushed to promote firearms safety, embarking on a cross-state bus tour to discuss gun violence with citizens.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons says Lee has “wilted in the face of the legislative supermajority.”
“The winners here are special interests and extreme legislators holding our state hostage…they have utterly failed our families,” Clemmons said.
Prior to announcing the official session, Lee’s office sought out public comment on gun control and additional safety measures. According to the Tennessean, the majority of respondents were in support of additional gun control measures.
Republican lawmakers have discussed some proposals for gun control, including tax incentives for safe gun storage and a more streamlined process for background checks for those purchasing firearms, while also working to increase the number of beds available in state run mental health facilities.
Considering the ‘focus’ shift of the Special Session made in Lee’s official call released for public consumption, The Tennessee Conservative will be closely watching for sneaky language that could potentially be slipped into other pieces of legislation that could infringe on Tennesseans’ constitutional rights and will keep you informed.
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 news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com