The Tennessee General Assembly’s special session on public safety and mental health begins today. Lawmakers filed more than 100 bills for consideration before it began, The Tennessean reports, but only two concerned firearms — even after Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, spent months characterizing the special session as a response to The Covenant School school shooting and aggressively pushing the Legislature to pass an expanded extreme risk protection order law. State GOP lawmakers opposed the order of protection proposal from the start, and Lee did not explicitly include it in his special session proclamation.
One of the gun-related proposals on the table would allow lawmakers to consider an extreme risk protection order bill. Often referred to as “red flag” laws, these measures allow law enforcement, family, or friends, depending on the state, to temporarily confiscate guns from people who could hurt themselves or others.
Tennessee does have laws requiring the subjects of protective orders to be separated from their firearms, but as ProPublica and WPLN reported last week, there’s a dangerous loophole: When people in the state are ordered to give up their guns, they can give them to a “third party” like a friend or relative. What’s more, Tennessee has few mechanisms to enforce policies requiring people to turn in their weapons, and it has repeatedly failed to stop dangerous people from accessing guns. But even as polling shows that Tennessee voters support red flag laws, the chances that legislators will expand protections are slim to none — so far, only seven members have expressed support for such a proposal.
What to Know Today
The Biden administration is continuing to escalate its crackdown on lawbreaking gun dealers. The ATF has revoked the licenses of 122 dealers in the fiscal year that began in October, up from 90 the previous fiscal year. [The Wall Street Journal] Context: The Biden administration asked the ATF to implement a “zero tolerance” policy on lawbreaking gun dealers in June 2021.
California Governor Gavin Newsom is moving forward with his proposal to reform America’s gun laws via a constitutional convention — even as legal experts and fellow Democrats express concerns that the strategy could have unintended consequences. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Nearly 3 in 4 gun owners say protection is a major reason they own a firearm, far surpassing other reasons like hunting, sports, and collecting. More than 80 percent say they feel safer owning a gun. [Pew Research Center]
The 3rd Circuit dismissed a challenge to a New Jersey law that allows the state attorney general to sue gun companies for “public nuisance” claims, finding that the AG hasn’t yet enforced the law and doesn’t appear ready to do so anytime soon. [Associated Press] Context: New Jersey is one of eight states with some version of a “reasonable control” law. All of them took inspiration from the same New York bill.
To prevent gun violence, some schools are adopting rules that require students to carry clear backpacks. Security experts are skeptical that such measures make schools safer. [The Washington Post]
An Ohio appeals court ruled that Columbus can’t enforce its own firearm restrictions, dealing another blow to the city’s ongoing battle for local control over gun laws. Columbus continued to pass its own firearm-related ordinances after the state Legislature passed a preemption law in 2019. [The Columbus Dispatch]
More than a dozen witnesses of the racist mass shooting at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, last year are suing over the trauma they have endured. Defendants include the retailer that sold the shooter his gun and the manufacturer of his body armor, as well as Reddit and YouTube, online spaces in which the shooter was allegedly radicalized. [NBC] (Disclosure: This lawsuit was brought by Everytown for Gun Safety. Through its nonpolitical arm, Everytown provides grants to The Trace. You can find our donor transparency policy here, and our editorial independence policy here.)
47 percent — the proportion of U.S. adults who do not currently own a gun who say they could picture themselves as gun owners in the future. [Pew Research Center]