NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s not just lawmakers. Several groups are pushing for their agendas ahead of Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) calling a special session on public safety and gun reform.
“We think his proposal is unconstitutional on its face,” said John Harris, Tennessee Firearms Association (TFA) Executive Director.
The TFA is a nonprofit that plays a significant role lobbying for gun rights in Tennessee.
During his interview, Harris spent a fair amount of time fleshing out Lee’s proposal for gun reform, which includes an emergency risk protection order.
“What he’s described, as opposed to what he’s called it, is commonly known as a red flag law,” Harris said.
That’s something Harris said his organization won’t support.
Like many top Republicans in the state, the lobbyist group is supporting mental health reform.
“It could be mental health, it could be emotional, it could be a behavioral problem,” Harris said. “It could be a series or a spectrum of other issues. But the problem is not that they’re a gun owner.”
In opposition, a new group called the Protect Kids Not Guns Coalition held a rally in Nashville Wednesday, asking for more gun control.
“I’m a parent of teenagers, and I know that my teenagers are frightened,” Angela DeYoung said. “I genuinely believe there’s been a rise of mental health and trauma. I feel that we are in a trauma epidemic at this point.”
The group argues there’s no reason to wait until August for a special session, and gun reform needs to happen immediately.
“Everyday interactions are turning into life or death encounters, and we have to do something now to stop it,” Vanderbilt student Katey Parham said. “We can’t wait until August 21st, and so we have to act now for common-sense gun reform.”
Parham spoke at the rally Wednesday. She said common-sense reform includes things like extreme-risk protection orders, safe storage laws, and restricting large-capacity magazines.