I read with interest the opinion of Mr. Bo Gill, Chairman of the Bedford County Republican Party, published in your paper on May 13, 2023, contending “Red Flag Laws” …
I read with interest the opinion of Mr. Bo Gill, Chairman of the Bedford County Republican Party, published in your paper on May 13, 2023, contending “Red Flag Laws” authorizing the seizure of firearms from people suspected of posing a threat to themselves or others are unconstitutional and, even if not, are nevertheless ineffective in preventing gun violence as well as fundamentally unfair or un-American because such laws infringe the liberty of Americans.
But “Red Flag Laws” are constitutional under both the Second Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and under Article I, Section 26 of the Tennessee Constitution. Why?
The Second Amendment refers to its legitimacy as a “well-regulated militia.”
On September 25, 1789, when Congress first proposed this Amendment to the legislatures of the several States, a militia was “well regulated” if it, as the Tennessee National Guard does now, had preparedness, training, and background checks. Background checks? Yes, of course, to require the new nation be defended by sane soldiers and to ferret out British, and even Canadian, spies. That the purpose of such checks for firearms regulation has changed over 234 years from spying to, for example, scrutinizing mentally disordered people today is a trifling change compared to the basic fear of whatever is crazy soldiering and gun-carrying has always involved (Western) civilization with.
The Tennessee Constitution declares “The Legislature shall have the power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.” Surely American liberty does not include any right to “wear arms” to terrorize people or to pursue “private assassination.” Long ago the Tennessee Supreme Court opined as much, and repeatedly. To say “Red Flag Laws” are unconstitutional is to ignore the express power the Tennessee Constitution has granted to the Legislature to take a view to prevent crime and, therefore, to regulate how firearms may be worn by a 27-year-old disaffected former student at Covenant School in Nashville who murdered several people with an assault rifle this spring.
But let us not dwell at macabre length on emotions cascading in rivers of tears from one horrific episode. Let us turn to a congregation at worship in Antioch, Tennessee, being gunned down and horrified further. How many scores of more episodes of mass killing of innocent people have there been already in our country? And how many others will be before us in the future? For surely there are no politically-imposed limits to be set upon the number of actually deranged people in our society.
Does any civilized state educate its children to be civilized when those children (as well as adult educators and support personnel) are haunted by persistent fear of mass murder? How much does it take in sorrow, pain, death, and disgust for the Legislature to act? As Mr. Gill, to his credit, noted in his letter, other Republican Party county chairmen think differently from him about “Red Flag Laws” and say “ENOUGH!”
William Prentice Cooper