Former Nashville Mayor, Tennessee Governor and now current candidate for U.S. Senate, Democrat Phil Bredesen appeared in Chattanooga Tuesday for his first campaign event since announcing his run December 6, 2017. After a tour of the TVA hydroelectric facility in nearby Raccoon Mountain, Bredesen met with members of the media, where he addressed issues on a wide range of topics.
In a twelve minute video (embedded below) of an exchange between Bredesen and media obtained by Nooga.com, the former governor spoke on a variety of issues, albeit in a noticeably subdued voice.
On gun control and reaction to the horrific Parkland school murders, Bredesen’s response to a News9 reporter’s question about the event seemed to focus narrowly on restrictions on firearm ownership by people who have been diagnosed with a mental or emotional disorder.
“I do think it is time to – for everyone including, very strong supporters of the Second Amendment – to get reasonable about this,” Bredesen said, adding:
This tragedy in Florida – the latest one – I’m one of those that agree that it’s beyond thoughts and prayers now. We need to do some specific things.
I personally feel that there’s a lot of tightening up that could be done in the background check area – particularly including mental illness or problems like that into the background checks – and I hope that Congress can move forward on that.
I understand that even the NRA is in favor of some these increases. We ought to just move on it and stop talking about it.
When asked about whether or not Tennessee’s firearm regulations were “good enough,” Bredesen replied that, “gun laws are basically a federal issue:”
And I think when we moved to the background checks, that was a step in the right direction.
If you believe in the Second Amendment – as I do – I think you also have to believe that to protect that right, we’ve got to make sure that people that have no business owning guns, don’t.
I believe in the First Amendment, too – but you can’t yell ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater. There are these protections in place.
I do think that making sure that people have the right to purchase guns or people who want to have them, are not a felon, they are not people who have domestic violence problems, they are not people with mental illness problems. That issue has really become huge, and what happened in Florida has underlined it again.
It’s time to move on this. I can see no reason why the Congress can’t begin to make some progress here. There’s a lot of things that people can dispute about the Second Amendment issues, but there seems to be very strong, across-the-board feelings that to tighten up these background checks is a reasonable and important think to do.
The News9 reporter acknowledged Bredesen “often thinks blue” while “Tennessee is red,” asking, “What do you think the rest of the state feels in the gun lobby argument?”
Bredesen answered, repeating the ‘mental illness’ restriction, which reflects laws currently on the books.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he said. “But when I was governor, we had a strong ‘Sportsmen for Bredesen’ – I’ve been a gun owner and a sportsman all my life. There are some people for whom there is co compromise possible. I think the vast majority of Tennesseans are kind of like me: they want the right to own guns; they understand that they should not be in the hands of people who are mentally unfit to handle them; and that one of the ways we protect that right for ourselves to purchase and own guns is to put reasonable laws in place to keep the wrong people from getting their hands on them.”
The News9 reporter followed up with a citation of a “social media poll” that asked website visitors thought “we actually need some” gun legislation or if “any legislation, I think, hurts my gun rights.” He asked, “Do the people who think that [latter] way… what do you have to say to them?”
Bredesen answered, “I’d say to them, ‘I think you’re wrong about that.’ I’d say to them – these people – that in almost every field, the way you protect these rights is to cut out some of the most extreme examples of it.”
As I said, you know, I believe in First Amendment rights, but you can’t go to a theater and yell, ‘fire!’ And I think when it comes to gun laws, that there are people who clearly should not have access to be able to own these guns because of their mental state, or mental illness or domestic violence or felony convictions – the kinds of things we think ought to prohibit that. We just need to get serious about making that happen.
We have these laws on the books that – the NICS has never been properly funded to do these background checks. The databases are only as good as the material that cities, counties and states put into them about these offences.
In this last budget, they actually cut the money that they were sending to help pay for the cost of doing this – getting these things in. This is an easy one – just a simple appropriation to actually fund the stuff we’ve already said we ought to have in a piece of legislation. To me it’s a no-brainer. We should just do it.
The first-time Senate candidate moved on to field more questions, like how he would “approach D.C. politics.”
Bredesen said, “One thing I’ve found that everyone – from great conservatives to very liberal people – can agree on is it’s time to get past all this [shouting] and start making a few compromises and [start] to move the ball down the field a little bit. I don’t think that’s something that’s going to happen with just me but you get a dozen or 15 senators that have a commitment to this… and you start to have a block that has to be dealt with.”
Watch the 12min press gaggle:
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