Message from TFA

Bill Lee’s insistence on a Red Flag special session – a potential benefit

In April 2023, Bill Lee proposed a “Red Flag” law in Tennessee. He tries to, in the concerning words of Senator Jack Johnson, “rebrand” it as a “temporary mental health order of protection” but it is simply a Red Flag law. This is not at all surprising from a Governor who identifies as a Republican but who now has a clearly established five year history of sending his administrative department heads, department attorneys, and tax payer funded administration lobbyists to the Legislature to lobby against your rights that are protected by the Second Amendment.  

But the Tennessee Legislature seemed unwilling at the time to debate his anti-Second Amendment proposal. Maybe the “optics” were not just right for some but the fact is that the Legislature adjourned rather than act on Lee’s most recent unconstitutional proposal. 

In response, Lee has announced that he is exercising his constitutional power as governor to call the entire Legislature back into a special session to address Red Flag laws and potentially other options to impair rights protected by the Second Amendment or other aspects of the Constitution. 

That special session is now set for August 21, 2023. Gun control advocates from across the nation are readying for what some believe will be a massive turnout of progressive leftists (accompanied by a number of individuals who identify as Republicans) all eager to advance the gun control agenda or to just have another opportunity to be led in public rallies which are designed to be disruptive rather than productive, such as the rally led by the likes of activists Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson. Lee has invited this chaos to Tennessee on purpose.

Already a numbered of “rebranded” ideas for Red Flag laws, Extreme Risk Protection Orders, etc., are being floated by various Republicans in the Legislature, perhaps being encouraged by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally’s open support of a Red Flag law. 

We are hearing reports that Lee is “inviting” legislators individually or in small groups to come meet with him. Of course, that is not necessarily a good sign because Tennessee governors have in the past (and Lee may have as well) used the authority of the governor’s office or the administration to threaten legislators into supporting the governor’s plans (whatever they are) under admonitions that the governor is “keeping a list” and that those on the “naughty list” (not a reference to Instagram activities) might see their districts miss out on funding or improvements that the governor or the administration has the ability to control like grants, road projects, etc. These meetings are expected over the next few weeks or months and your legislators need to hear from you that you do not want your rights bargained and sold in a back room deal that is made to enact some form of Red Flag law or otherwise impair your Second Amendment rights – because, frankly, these elected officials have no authority to bargain away your constitutionally protected rights. 

We are also hearing reports that some legislators, including some in Republican leadership, like Rep. William Lamberth, are telling their peers that the Legislature, to paraphrase, ‘must do something.’ While its not clear based on the reports that are coming out what such a statement might implicate, given the last 13 years it likely does not mean that the “something” is an expansion of Second Amendment rights, that it is the adoption of real constitutional carry, that it is the elimination of gun free zones, that it is lowering the statutory thresholds for permits or permitless carry to 18, that is it changing Tennessee from a “handgun carry” to a “firearms carry” state, or even that it is taking seriously and implementing the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen to repeal many Tennessee laws and regulations that fail the Supreme Court’s Bruen test for constitutionality. No, it is more likely that “something” is some form of gun control.

So where is the possible benefit?

First, consider that Lee’s special session is to be focused on Red Flag and other gun control “somethings”. 

Second, Lee as governor has no constitutional right to introduce legislation. That would be a violation of the separation of powers that is contained in the constitution. While Lee might as governor propose a legislative agenda, actual elected legislators have to put their names on any proposed legislation as the sponsors and proponents of Lee’s Red Flag proposals. Looking back over the last 5 years, when Lee proposes something for the Legislature, those pieces of legislation are often introduced and championed by Sen. Jack Johnson and Rep. William Lamberth. That is what happened with Lee’s 2021 “permitless carry” law. Of course, a federal court in East Tennessee just entered an order on a settlement agreement involving the state which states that portions of Lee’s 2021 law that Rep. Lamberth and Sen. Johnson sponsored to passage violated the Second and Fourteenth Amendments and constituted federal civil rights violations. Not a good sign of constitutional stewardship.

Third, any gun control and Red Flag proposals from Lee will have to be filed and sponsored by some specific legislators. Further, any other gun control ideas that surface in the special session will also have specific House and Senate sponsors – many of which are likely to be those who identify as Republicans. 

It will require great effort by Second Amendment supporters and those trustworthy legislators who comprehend the Constitution to defeat these  gun control efforts. The fact that Lee’s special session will have the agenda of gun control yields some unintended (perhaps) insight.

Next year, 2024, is an election year. Those who propose, sponsor, co-sponsor or even indicate any support of these gun grabbing gun control measures either in the special session or in 2024 are identifiable. Someone has to sponsor the measures. Someone has to give them “seconds” in committees. Someone has to speak in favor of Lee’s gun control. Unless they conceal their actions or cut back room deals, at least some of this should be done so as to be observable. 

All House members will be up for re-election in 2024. One half of the Senators will be. The special session and the expected 2024 legislative session will hopefully provide insight on which Legislators truly support the Constitution and your rights. That is important information to have particularly when we have “Gun Control” Lee and his administrative minions trying to ram through more gun control in Tennessee rather than less. Knowing the co-conspirators in the Legislature just might be helpful in the 2024 primaries and elections. Indeed, even if all of Lee’s gun control measures are defeated – simply knowing that Lee and certain legislators support gun control is important information.

Your involvement is critical to help stop Bill Lee’s proposed Red Flag legislation.

Please take action now and help the TFALAC (a state political action committee) raise funds for radio spots, social media campaigns, and other “get out the word” measures to stop Bill Lee’s insistence that the state of Tennessee should be taking guns away from lawful gun owners in violation of the Constitution.

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