NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Vanderbilt released a new poll Wednesday morning showing roughly three-quarters of respondents supporting some sort of red flag law.
“I think it’s a sign that the state, collectively, is a little bit more moderate than our collective state legislature,” said Dr. John C. Geer, a co-director of the poll.
That statistic included over 65% of people who identified as “MAGA Republicans” (as opposed to “non-MAGA Republicans”) that supported a red flag law to minimize school shootings.
But you probably shouldn’t count on the poll changing the minds of the legislature, as top Republicans remain adamant against serious changes.
“A vast majority of my constituents do not support a red flag or an order of protection law,” Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) said. “I don’t need a poll to tell me–I don’t make decisions on polls anyway. But you look at the makeup of the body, and the vast majority of the constituents of my Republican colleagues are telling them the same thing.”
When asked if the poll changed his opinion at all, Zachary was clear. “No, absolutely not. The vast majority of my constituents do not support a red flag law or any type of order of protection. I don’t support it, I’ve made that very clear, and that’s not legislation I’ll support,” he said. “Now, it’s important that we address some of the core issues, mental health being one of those.”
With a special session on gun reform looming, a stalemate feels imminent, whether it be between conservative and moderate Republicans or Republicans and Democrats.
“Whether they choose to commit that heinous act with guns or an automobile or a fertilizer bomb, we need to be recognizing there are people in a mental health crisis and they need treatment,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) said when asked how an emergency order of protection law fits into Tennessee’s future.
Democrats had a different thought process. They know they won’t get exactly what they want (an assault weapons ban or significant checks to purchase one), but they at least want to see Gov. Bill Lee’s ERPO proposal get some traction.
“Let’s accomplish something that makes a difference,” said Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville). “If we’re just coming down here so some folks can check a box and say, ‘hey we did something,’ let’s not.”
Of course, a poll doesn’t necessarily always indicate what every voter is thinking. But some think it can mean the tide is beginning to turn slowly, in this instance, for gun reform.
Though Geer pumped the brakes on that a bit.
“No one should think this state is suddenly making a turn toward the blue side of the ledger,” he said. “That’s not happening. It’s a conservative state and remains so.”