Tennessee governor calls on legislature to pass 'red flag law'

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is backing a "red flag" law to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who may pose a risk to themselves or others.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee
George Walker IV

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is calling on state lawmakers to pass an order of protection law, commonly known as a "red flag" law, to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others. It would allow a judge to remove weapons from someone that is deemed dangerous. 

Nineteen states have similar laws on the books.

The support for a gun safety law comes weeks after a person shot and killed six people, including three children, at The Covenant School. 

It is unclear whether the Republican-led legislature would support such a bill. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said last week he would support some sort of "red flag" legislation. House leader Cameron Sexton says he wouldn't consider it without some sort of mental health component.

The governor says he has not yet asked a member of the legislature to sponsor his bill. He also says he's open to other ideas to address mass shootings.

"I think everyone — leadership from speakers as well as other leaders — have expressed a desire to do something and move forward," the Republican governor said inside the Midtown Hills Precinct, which responded directly to The Covenant School shooting. "I have challenged them to bring forward ideas and subsequently met with those leaders. I do believe we should get it done during this session."

Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville (left), and Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis (right), raise their hands

Tennessee lawmakers reappoint Rep. Justin Pearson after expulsion

Rep. Pearson was expelled, along with Rep. Jones, following a protest on gun control after The Covenant School shooting.


Lee called on the Tennessee General Assembly to find a path of partisanship, which has been tough to come by. Last week two Black Democratic lawmakers were expelled for participating in a protest that advocated for stricter gun laws.

Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, and Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, were expelled on Thursday for leading a protest over gun violence on the House floor. Another lawmaker, Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, escaped expulsion by a single vote.

Jones and Pearson were reappointed to their seats this week.

Democratic lawmakers said they are ready to go with this type of legislation, but they are just waiting on the Republican supermajority to join them. 

"In this moment, our families deserve action to stop future gun violence. The governor is right to make this a priority before session ends," state Sen. Ramuseh Akbari said.

This story was originally reported by Scripps News Nashville.

Bodycam footage of police responding to an active shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville officers speak out after The Covenant School shooting

Nashville police officers share their experiences of camaraderie when responding to The Covenant School shooting.