Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday signed an executive order designed to strengthen background checks and asked the state Legislature to pass the equivalent of a red flag law.
During a press conference, Lee said the executive order would ensure that the information sharing «more closely ensures the safe and legal purchase of firearms in Tennessee.»
He also said that legislation was needed to address deficiencies in existing gun laws.
“Our current law is tested and effective in many circumstances and many circumstances, especially with regard to domestic violence, but this new stronger law enforcement law will provide the population with broader coverage, security, of those who are in danger. for themselves or for the population. Lee said.
Red flag laws, which are similar in scope to warrant protection laws, allow authorities to temporarily seize firearms from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others. Last year, President Joe Biden signed historic bipartisan gun legislation that included grants to states for red flag laws.
It is unclear whether the Tennessee Legislature, where Republicans hold a majority, will accept such a bill.
Police said the Nashville school shooter was in care for an emotional disorder and hid weapons at his parents’ home.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, who also serves as president of the Senate, supported the governor’s efforts.
“I unequivocally support the Second Amendment and believe that an armed and law-abiding citizenry is the best defense against criminality and tyranny. But I also believe we must take steps to ensure that those experiencing mental health crises do not have access to weapons that could be used at mass casualty events,» McNally said in a statement.
“Any such order process must be strictly constructed with sufficient due process and protection against false or fraudulent reporting. I believe it is possible to protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners and keep guns out of the reach of people experiencing severe mental health crises.”
House Speaker Cameron Sexton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The governor’s comments Tuesday come amid tensions in Tennessee after Justin Jones and Justin J. Pearson, both black Democrats, were expelled from the General Assembly last week for their participation in a protest against gun violence. in the camera. A third Democrat, Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is white, survived her ouster vote.
The protest on the floor was in response to a mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville that left six people dead, including three children.
Jones was reinstated Monday after a Nashville city council vote. The Shelby County Commission is expected to hold a similar vote for Pearson on Wednesday.
When asked about the removals of Jones and Pearson, which thrust the state into the national spotlight, Lee declined to comment directly on the events, instead saying lawmakers were operating in an «emotionally charged environment.» ” after the mass shooting last month.
“We should take real solutions very seriously and get real solutions at the finish line, and I look forward to working with the General Assembly to do just that,” Lee said.
“We should work to put our differences aside and achieve something that Tennesseans want us to achieve,” he added.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Lee’s action Tuesday was influenced by the removal of Jones and Pearson.
The executive order signed by Lee requires entering criminal history information and mental health information from the court within 72 hours into Tennessee’s Instant Verification System or providing that information to the state’s investigative office. Courts will need to submit similar information to the background check system.
The order also asks the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to review the current process for purchasing firearms and issue a report within 60 days. «If changes are needed, we can make those changes,» Lee said.