On Friday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Leahy spoke to Senior Correspondent and Tennessee General Assembly expert, Laura Baigert regarding the current “Red Flag” bill proposed by Senator Steve Dickerson, a Republican from Nashville and defined its inconsistencies along with the reality of whether or not the bill has the possibility to be passed.
Leahy: And we are joined now by our top or senior correspondent covering the capital hill here in Tennessee General Assembly and the Governor, Laura Baigert who has our lead story about are flag bill being introduced by state Senator Steve Dickerson. Welcome, Laura!
Baigert: Good morning, how are you, Michael?
Leahy: So our lead story today is about state Senator Steve Dickerson, a Republican from Nashville who has promised to introduce a, what’s called a Red Flag bill. But that bill is being criticized by local gun right groups like the Tennessee Fire Arms Association as well as national gun right groups. Tell us what a Red Flag bill is Laura.
Baigert: Well, the Red Flag is kind of what you think about when somebody raises a red flag. And it’s specifically about people who own guns that are registered, legal gun owners and a red flag is risen by just about anyone and petitions the court for the guns to be seized from that legal gun owner. And that person petitioning could be the police but it could be a family member, it could be a teacher, it could be a neighbor, and they could cite things as simple as something that the legal gun owner “says” in order to have those guns seized. And the big issue about this is there is no due process in that the petition is filed with the court and the judge issues an order for the guns to be confiscated without the input of the law-abiding citizen who owns the guns. And then the gun owner would have to come back and petition afterwards to get their guns back.
Leahy: Sounds to me like a vi…, I’m mean just on the face of it, I’m not a gun expert but that sounds like a violation of the second amendment to me.
Baigert: Well on a federal level I would think that you could make that claim if it were a federal law and I think there, we may see that with our new, when Congress goes back into session with the democratically controlled US house. On a state level, you might be able to get away with it as not being a violation of second amendment rights but certainly it seems to be a violation of due process. If it’s actually taken in anticipation of you maybe committing a crime. So um…
Leahy: Sounds like Minority Report that movie, remember that movie with Steven Speilberg…
Baigert: Yes, yes. And actually some of the criticism that came out of it from the gun owners of America non profit that lobbies on behalf of the second amendment actually cited that movie. So, ah and they’re based on some of these laws coming out after the Parkland shooting and wrote a report urging people to fight back against it because once we go down this slippery slope it’s going to be really hard to pull it back. And you saw what happened in Maryland where there was a sixty one year old person, who legal gun owner who’s sister made come complaints to the police they got the order, went in and less than five weeks after the law was passed in October we had our first victim. And they thought, the police were trying to protect this family member, or we don’t even know who was in danger at that point but when they seized the gun there was a some kind of a disagreement about that and the gun owner was killed, shot and killed by the police.
Leahy was disappointed to hear this news and expressed that he thought it was troubling. He believed their argument was motivated by, for example the killer at Parkland being notified as danger prior to the incident multiple times to the police. He stressed that if the police paid attention and followed existing law the gun could have been logically seized. Baigert described that a lot of these cases have people that are not legal gun owners. She believed that people don’t need to go seizing guns from legal gun owners and that there are other things going on that have nothing to do with this seizing. Baigert noted from Steve Dickerson’s op-ed speculation that he felt that this bill would save lives, however, there is no way to prove that.
Leahy: So what does, so Tennessee Firearms Association executive director John Harris has written a piece about this, not very happy with it, opposes it. What’s John Harris’s argument?
Baigert: Well he talks about the due process and the unconstitutionality of it from the standpoint that your constitutional rights are basically just, they’re written in to, ah, they’re our natural rights. And when we go down this slippery slope of reasonable or common sense as a way to hook in conservatives..
Leahy: Everything’s reasonable and can justify anything right?
Baigert: Right, absolutely. And certainly no one’s happy about what’s going on. Nobody’s happy about Parkland shooting or any of the other things that have happened. But are these things really going to fix it? And we’re not dealing with the root cause of any of this as all of us know. But these do-gooders out there under this heading and reasonable and common sense and all of that, and he talks about suicide as if that’s the only way that people would commit suicide if they’re determined and again we’re not dealing with the underlying cause…
Baigert: …of mental illness.
Leahy: So you’re our expert on the Tennesse General Assembly. In fact, you know when we launched the Tennessee Star in February of 2017, we’re almost coming up on our two-year anniversary Laura.
Baigert: That’s amazing.
Leahy: Isn’t that amazing? And what really put the Tennessee Star on the map was your outstanding reporting from the Tennessee General Assembly. I mean we got every detail of the Improve Act passage and how the former state representative Barry ‘Boss’ Doss broke the rules of the state House of Representatives in order to shove through that gas tax…
Leahy: on the improve act. But we got detailed analysis from you. And ever since then, you’re the expert on what’s going with the Tennessee General Assembly. By the way, you’re reporting on that and people who read the Tennesse Star know this, but I’m just going to say this out loud. Your reporting on the Tennessee General Assembly is far better than any other reporting out there. Local newspaper, Tennessean, they just don’t get into the details the way you do because you’re there, all the time, you track it, we have a photographer down there, and your reports are very very detailed. So you know what’s going on. You know the people up there better than really anybody in any other media outlet right now. What do you see, do you think that state Senator Steve Dickerson, after this pushback, does he still intend to introduce this Red Flag bill when the General Assembly meets in February?
At the end of the segment, Laura assessed that seven bills have been filed and Dickerson’s bill was not yet there. She predicted that he may go along with it but noted that Tennessee lost some great people however managed to pick up some strong conservatives in the House. She didn’t see the bill getting very far and noted that Dickerson has not filed for a sponsor on this bill. Leahy questioned Baigert about whether or not Bill Lee had given any indication of how he might respond to this type of bill. Baigert was not sure if it would get through the House but noted that Dickerson thought he would protect second amendment rights but without seeing the wording of the bill, nobody is yet worked up about the bill’s proposal.
Listen to the full segment:
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