State Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) has gotten the attention of local and national gun rights activist groups for promising to introduce a “red flag” bill in the upcoming legislative session.
So-called red flag laws permit a judge to issue an order to seize firearms from a lawful owner based upon a petition from police or family members citing something as feeble as statements made by the gun owner in question, hence the name “red flag.”
Dickerson, in an op-ed to The Tennessean, alludes to bills signed into law by Republican governors since the Parkland shooting, saying, “This is exactly the type of bipartisan, common-sense gun violence prevention policy we need in Tennessee.” That’s why, Dickerson says, “I will introduce a red flag bill when the Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes next session.”
Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director John Harris, in an email to the organization’s members, has raised the question as to whether Constitutional rights should be subject to the low threshold infringements of red flag laws. Ammoland Shooting Sports News picked up Harris’ commentary and published it in its entirety.
Harris says that red flag laws “may just be the newest euphemism for reasonable gun control.” Indeed, in his commentary, Senator Dickerson refers to his upcoming legislation as “common sense,” the very definition of reasonable.
As Harris points out, red flags could arise for as little as a neighbor, family member or teacher thinking that a citizen lawfully owning guns “might” be dangerous and then petitioning the court to intervene with an order to take away the individual’s guns.
These red flag laws are in addition to other 2nd Amendment rights restrictions such as background checks, prior criminal convictions and dishonorable discharges from the military.
Correspondent Kerry Picket for the National Rifle Association’s NRATV reported on Dickerson’s op-ed, and rightfully points out that since no bill has been filed yet, it’s a wait and see as to whether Dickerson’s proposed legislation will contain the “robust due process protections to ensure a person’s access to guns is limited only when a court finds there is clear and convincing evidence these individuals present a risk to themselves or others” he promises.
On yet another front, YouTube channel, Guns & Gadgets, reported on “Tennessee Republican to Introduce Red Flag Bill” talking about the lack of due process. Senator Dickerson’s contact information was provided below the video with encouragement for Tennesseans to express their viewpoint or to pass it along to anyone with influence in Tennessee. The video has already received over 14,000 views.
Maryland’s red flag law, officially known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, after going into effect on October 1 claimed its first victim on November 5, 2018. Sixty-one year old Cary J. Willis was shot and killed by police serving a court order to confiscate his guns as a result of his sister requesting the protective order.
Dumbfounded that the police “didn’t need to do what they did,” the victim’s niece said her of her uncle “he wouldn’t hurt anybody,” and described him as “harmless.”
Gun Owners of America (GOA), a non-profit organization founded in 1975 to defend 2nd Amendment rights, warned back in July that gun owners must stand up and fight back against the new wave of dangerous laws being pushed across the United States. The organization says that laws removing rights from people for crimes they haven’t committed with no ability to defend themselves before their rights are removed would be more properly termed “Gun Confiscation Orders.”
TFA’s Harris cautions that, “The concept of ‘reasonable’ gun control is a dangerous argument advanced to trick conservatives into believing that its okay to impair and infringe the constitutional rights of an individual, if doing so can be rationalized as something a ‘reasonable’ person would do.” Harris continues,
Of course, constitutional rights are not based on what some in society think is ‘reasonable.’ To the contrary, such rights pre-exist and take precedence over the constitution. They are thus recognized by the constitution and are protected by it at a very high level.
If Tennessee were to pass a red flag bill, it would join 13 other mainly Democrat-controlled states of Connecticut, Indiana, California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Illinois.
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