NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In the wake of the mass shooting at The Covenant School, “red flag” laws are being pushed along with gun reform. Currently, 19 states, including Washington D.C., have “red flag” laws in place, but some state leaders are making a big push to get them on the books in Tennessee.
The Covenant School shooting left six people dead, including three 9-year-old children.
“‘Red flag laws’ in the state of Tennessee are absolutely necessary,” said Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D—Nashville), the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Metro police say the shooter, Audrey Hale, was under a doctor’s care for an emotional disorder at the time of the shooter, but even if police knew about her mental condition, there is no law that would have allowed them to take the guns that were legally purchased.
“‘Red flag’ laws don’t work. This is not about mental health, it’s about confiscating firearms,” Taylor Rhodes said in a 2022 interview with WGN.
Recently, renewed protests for ‘red flag’ laws have led teachers and students to the front steps of the Capitol, and with just days left in the legislature session, many are hoping to see something official.
However, with other states already using these measures, how often are guns actually taken away?
An Associated Press article found many states “barely use” the laws, because of a “lack of awareness” and “resistance by some authorities.”
In Illinois, where the Highland Park Shooting happened, there are some of the toughest ‘red flag’ laws to date.
“When you look at the law that was clear and present day, and what the statute requires, what meets that threshold. That did not meet that threshold,” said Brendan Kelly, the Illinois State Police Director, in a 2022 interview.
Despite the tough ‘red flag’ laws in Illinois, that didn’t stop suspected shooter Robert Crimo III. Police documents showed he attempted to commit suicide, then shortly after, he threatened his entire family. No charges were filed, but police labeled him as being a “clear and present danger.” So how was he able to pass federal background checks and legally buy five firearms, and the rifle that was used in the parade shooting?
“I’m just so intrigued by the idea that his father three months after the family was scared for their own lives would endorse this guy’s ability to buy a firearm,” said George Brauchler, who at the time was the Colorado District Attorney.
A similar situation was seen in Colorado Springs, one year before the mass shooting at Club Q, video was captured of the suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Aldrich, outside a home with his mother when law enforcement arrested him. His mother called the police claiming he has threatened to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, and multiple weapons.
Aldrich would go on to kill five people inside the nightclub.
Polls show a majority of Tennesseans want a “red flag” law but they’re not as simple as the sound.