Nashville School Shooting
(AP Photo/Wade Payne)
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By Rob Morse

After the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Republican Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee announced that he wants a red flag law. I’m not sure if the governor is working for the voters here or surrendering to the press.

It isn’t clear what “red flag law” really means here and the Governor’s proposal seems to have shifted over time. In general, red flag laws allow the government to confiscate someone’s guns without the benefit of due process. Beyond that, the details vary. In this case it looks like Governor Lee is working harder to please the press than he is to make anyone in Tennessee safer.

Lee latched onto the issue of a red flag law when another murderer with mental health issues opened fire in a school. Police responded quickly and shot the murderer to death. The Covenant school was a gun-free zone so there were no armed defenders at the scene when the attack started. The 28-year-old murderer killed three 9-year-old children and three adults before police officers stopped her.

Our children’s safety at school is a concern to almost everyone. Regurgitating calls for a red flag law is a convenient tool for a Governor who needs a soundbite-friendly answer to questions from the press.

The concern that I have is that most “public safety” laws passed in haste after traumatic events are actually ineffective and frequently harmful. Enacting a firearm purchase waiting period may sound good. It lets an elected official say he did something to protect the children. But mandatory waiting periods simply don’t stop mass murderers. And waiting periods often leave domestic abuse victims disarmed.

Mass murderers are obsessed, but their acts aren’t the result of emotional impulse. Mass-murderers usually plan their attacks in great detail over an extended period of time (as the Nashville shooter reportedly did). She wrote a lengthy manifesto. She bought seven firearms over time. Passing a waiting period bill would let someone like Governor Lee say he did something and the press would never question whether waiting periods actually protect our children.

The murderer’s parents were worried about her mental health. They didn’t want her to have firearms because they thought she was a danger to herself or to others. Yet I can’t find records showing the killer’s parents, or anyone else, asking that she be confined for a mental health evaluation. That confinement usually requires the agreement of a mental health expert and often requires a concurring opinion. The Nashville killer exhibited violent and suicidal ideation. It’s an open question whether doctors would have, or could have, forced the killer into treatment or confinement.

Whatever the warning signs and history of the killer, it’s always an easy political move to “arrest the guns” so that the voters feel like politicians have addressed “gun violence” after a high profile attack like the Nashville school shooting.

Red flag laws were originally procedures in civil court where someone — usually a spouse or family member — goes before a judge to claim that a gun owner is a threat. The list of who can ask for a red flag law, which varies by state, has expanded over time.

The problem is the hearing is usually conducted ex parte, without the gun owner being present or even informed of the legal proceeding. They have no opportunity to counter the claim or make the case that it’s false. The standard of evidence in these hearings is low, and it is trivially easy to meet the preponderance of evidence threshold when the judge only hears one side of the case.

A judge is then asked to issue an order confiscating the targeted gun owner’s firearms. Since this is a civil proceeding and the gun owner hasn’t committed a crime, the usual requirement that the defendant have competent legal counsel doesn’t apply. The guns are usually then taken by police and the gun owner then has to pay for their own legal representation to fight the order.

As you can imagine, these confiscation laws can be and often are abused in cases of divorce, custody battles, and revenge lawfare. Governor Lee, however, says his law will be different.

Perhaps the Tennessee gun confiscation law Lee wants will require due process and proper legal representation for the gun owner. The problem, again, is that mass murder isn’t a gun problem. Arresting a crazy person’s guns still leaves the that person on the streets.

A mass murderer recently killed eight people at a bus stop by driving over the victims with his car. A few years ago, a terrorist in New York murdered eight people on a bike path when he ran them down with a rented truck. The worst attack on a school in US history wasn’t carried out with firearms. Disarming honest gun owners does far more harm than good, but it’s all too popular among elected officials looking for easy “answers.”

California is very proud of its extreme gun control laws. The state was the first to pass  a red flag…er, gun violence restraining order law almost a decade ago. The Golden State has mandatory waiting periods and requires that people be over 21 years of age to purchase most firearms. California also led the nation in mass shootings, but the mainstream press rarely mentions that.

The good news is that mass murderers have already shown us how to protect our children. The murderers’ own journals and manifestos have told us what to do. Most of them feel like failures. They’re determined to kill and gain infamy. They almost always attack gun-free zones so they know they’ll only face disarmed victims. When the murderers make a mistake and an armed citizen is present, the armed citizen stops the killer over half the time.

The other news you’ll rarely hear is that we’ve never had a mass murderer attack a school that has a publicly-announced program of arming the school’s staff. That’s true in general, and in this case in particular. The Nashville police chief said that the murderer avoided other targets and chose the Covenant School becauseit was undefended.

I hope Governor Lee and the Tennessee legislature will do what’s best for Tennesseans and their children. While the red flag proposal plays well in the press, the Governor’s gotten a lot of pushback so far from legislators. Meanwhile a bill to allow volunteer school staff to carry arms is sitting in the Tennessee legislature, but that solution — one that’s been proven to work in schools that have tried it — isn’t what the media want to hear.


This article originally appeared at Slow Facts Blog and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. Governor, release the manifesto! What are you hiding? You control the Tennessee State Police.

    • he can’t release it.. Tennessee doesn’t have the manifesto. the FBI does and until they are done with it ….

      • all very suspicious…what are they hiding?…clearly something they don’t want us to see…

    • What is the governor hiding?

      “A full-page ad with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee dressed in drag ran in one of the state’s largest newspapers Tuesday, just days after the Republican politician signed into law a bill targeting drag performances — the first of its kind in the nation.

      The ad, which appeared in The Tennessean, was paid for by the Human Rights Campaign. It shows a recently unearthed photo of the self-described “conservative outsider” wearing women’s clothes while posing for his high school yearbook in 1977.“

      I don’t know why you guys are so upset with Governor Lee, he seems like a typical closeted conservative politician.

      • Miner49er, why are you and dacian so adamant about wanting kids to attend drag shows and be indoctrinated into a trans life and why are democrats doing their best to persuade voters that they’re groomers?

        • “so adamant about wanting kids to attend drag shows“

          Personally, I think it should be up to the parents whether or not their kids attend any particular entertainment show, not the state legislature or Governor.

          But I understand the conservatives want to indoctrinate kids, and I’ll continue to oppose their usurpation of parents’ rights.

        • Once again Miner49er, your lack of understanding what ‘context’ and ‘research’ is betrays you and helps you demonstrate your ignorance.

        • Sorry, but parents aren’t allowed to abuse their children. Exposing children to sex shows is abusive. The only people that have problems grasping that simple concept have no sense of what objective morality is.

          “But I understand the conservatives want to indoctrinate kids, and I’ll continue to oppose their usurpation of parents’ rights.”

          Gaslighting. Who’s been saying children belong to the community (the state)? Who’s making sanctuaries for “trans kids”? Which adults are keeping sex related secrets with other people’s children? Whose busy pushing trans ideology and teaching gay sex techniques to young children in school?

        • *Who’s

          I’m old enough to remember when “conversion therapy” was the greatest evil. The Left is busy converting as many children as possible from straight (typical, normal) into some form of deviant sexual preference or confusing gender worldview.

      • One photo, likely from a school play or a skit from a talent show, is quite the reach even for you.

      • i wore one of my mom’s acetate print cocktail dresses to the annual scavenger hunt halloween party. not gettin’ in without a costume. the kid who went as don king stole the show.
        i was told i looked absolutely fabulous.
        kind of jealous of my kilt wearin’, sporran sportin’ pals.
        “well i took off my pants and felt free
        the wind blowin’ up me
        and up the canyon
        as far as i could see” -d. van vliet

  2. The TN gov. should remove his head from his busy body Gun Control behind and focus on what most all murdered victims have in common and that is, “They were Defenseless.”

  3. A basic question that needs an answer:

    Is the governor just another RINO using this event to push the democrat (communist party USA) agenda?

  4. California’s red flag law requires proof by clear and convincing evidence as supplied, typically, through declarations filed under penalty of perjury. This is a significantly higher burden of proof than a mere preponderance of the evidence. A formal hearing at which the defendant is allowed to appear and to be represented by counsel occurs typically within 3 weeks or less.

    • Uh huh. And how many perjury prosecutions has California brought lately?

      “Red flag” laws are a joke. Judge has nothing to lose by granting them, and a lot to lose by not. Require ALL involved (complaintant, DA, judge) to financially immunize, on a strict liability basis, a party who is ultimately found by wrongfully deprived of their right under a RFL, and then we can talk.

      If the person is so nuts that they are a provable threat, get them civilly committed. If they are committing a crime, arrest them.

  5. Red flags are for showing the range is hot and for bullfighters.

    Want to do something? How about thinking of the Constitution and how to then find the real crazies and not looking for some far right boogeyman hiding under your bed

  6. “As you can imagine, these confiscation laws can be and often are abused in cases of divorce, custody battles, and revenge lawfare.”

    Hey, I can make claims without evidence as well

    “As you can imagine, gun owners against red flag laws are often mentally unstable, and refuse treatment.”

    But where’s my proof you demand?! Exactly.

  7. This wasn’t the first act of violence by Gary Don Barnett who killed his wife, daughter, and three grandchildren.

    Barnett was charged with domestic assault in that incident in 2022.

    The paperwork shows the judge granted a no contact order which was still in effect when Barnett became the suspect in the murder of his estranged wife and five other people, before killing himself.

    Gary Barnet was charged with domestic assault in 2022.

    In March of last year, their relationship reached a breaking point with documents showing Barnett filing for divorce.

    And though it wasn’t finalized, their last court date was set for June 30th.

    “The wife did everything in her power to keep him away from her,” says Sheriff Burnette.

    • In documents obtained by Newschannel 9, Barnett’s estranged wife Regina told a Marion County Judge that she was afraid of him in December of 2022.

      In an affidavit of complaint, she wrote…

      My soon to be (e)x husband threatened to shoot me and he verbally abuses everyday. He also threatened to shoot my dog. He also has anywhere from 50 to 60 guns in his room. I am afraid he will get drunk and shoot me.

    • If she had done everything in her power she would have been standing over his bleeding corpse, smoking pistol in hand. She would have exercised her right to just say no to being murdered.

      Paper work and the police are useless in these situations. They take all his guns and he beats her to death with a tire iron. She was in charge of her own destiny. And she bought into that be a victim crap the anti gunners push.

  8. Red flag laws make no sense, in light of past events. If multiple people call the FBI to report a potential school shooter, and the FBI gives that potential shooter a pass, then there is no reason to expect that a red flag law will have any effect.

    We’ve seen multiple mass shooters given those free passes by government. That Buffalo shooter, that Cruz kid, and more.

    Of course, red flag law or not, we’re seeing progressive selectively prosecuting people they don’t like, while selectively freeing people who advance the progressive agenda. It’s almost like having black skin is a get-out-of-jail-free card in some jurisdictions. And, of course, they can’t understand that is just as wrong as arresting people for driving while black.

    • The FBI certainly seems a consistent common denominator in law/law enforcement incompetence and corruption. Used to be ATF that “lead” the special Fed alphabet people. Appear to have been dethroned.

  9. Make a big show of staring gender dysphoria is a criteria and watch it get shut down hella fast.

    Pitting their pet causes against one another is always a good time.

  10. The Colorado Springs (Club Q) shooter identified as non-binary.

    The Denver (Columbine) shooter identified as trans.

    The Aberdeen shooter identified as trans.

    The Nashville shooter identified as trans.

    Trans people are estimated to be ~0.6% of the U.S. population. Those who identify as non-binary are estimated to be ~0.3% of the U.S. population.

    ~67% of mass shooters since 1966 expressed ‘gender identity’ issues but have not firmly self-declared.

    All mass shootings examined since 1966 (which is all of them to date), 100% of the shooters have shown correlates of violent mental health illness (prior and during and after their horrific crime) whether they had been coded as mentally ill or not.

    • To add: The term ‘mass shootings’ I used above also encompasses ‘school shootings’ which are basically, no matter what anyone says, ‘mass shootings’ .

    • Correctio for “The Denver (Columbine) shooter identified as trans.”

      should have been just..

      “The Denver shooter identified as trans.”

      However, these four are not the only ones. These are just the ones in the last five years that had self-declared.

    • To add – note and clarification for: “Trans people are estimated to be ~0.6% of the U.S. population. ”

      This is trans people over the age of 13.

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