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Poll: Tennessee Voters Prefer Enforcing Existing Laws to Red Flag Gun Confiscation

Monday, June 19, 2023

Poll: Tennessee Voters Prefer Enforcing Existing Laws to Red Flag Gun Confiscation

As NRA-ILA has often pointed out, as ignorance recedes, so does support for gun control. Recent polling in Tennessee conducted by co/efficient shows that when voters are confronted with the reality of “red flag” gun confiscation laws, they prefer vigorous enforcement of existing mental health laws and detainment for those proven to be dangerous over ineffective measures that only serve to undermine Second Amendment rights.

As enacted in a handful of states, “red flag” or “extreme risk protection order” laws grant the government the authority to seize a person’s guns and abrogate their right to possess firearms pursuant to a civil order. Such orders can typically be granted based on weak and nebulous standards of evidence.

Since 1968, federal law has prohibited firearm possession by anyone “who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution.” Therefore, those proven to be dangerously mentally ill are already prohibited from possessing firearms.  Red flag laws are designed to circumvent the due process typically afforded individuals before they are adjudicated as a mental defective or involuntarily committed, in order to more easily attack ordinary Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022) suggests that “red flag” gun confiscation orders violate the Second Amendment. Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion made clear that in order for a firearm regulation to pass constitutional muster it must fit within the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment right. Specifically, the opinion noted,

[w]hen the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct. The government must then justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Only then may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s “unqualified command.”

That poses a problem for “red flag” law backers, who are eager to stress the “innovative” nature of the gun control measure.

Following Bruen, a February 2 decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit invalidated a federal firearms prohibition that is based on a mere civil order. The decision explained,

The distinction between a criminal and civil proceeding is important because criminal proceedings have afforded the accused substantial protections throughout our Nation’s history. In crafting the Bill of Rights, the Founders were plainly attuned to preservation of these protections. See U.S. Const. amend. IV; U.S. Const. amend. V; U.S. Const. amend. VI; U.S. Const. amend. VIII. It is therefore significant that § 922(g)(8) works to eliminate the Second Amendment right of individuals subject merely to civil process.

By this logic, “red flag” gun confiscation schemes would be found similarly unconstitutional.

From May 30-June 1, co/efficient polled a sample of 1,770 likely general election voters in Tennessee on a series of questions, including how to address the dangerously mentally ill and “red flag” laws.

Respondents were presented with the following question, followed by a pair of options,

If a person is threatening to harm themselves or other, what do you think law enforcement should do to provide the most safety for the community?

  • Removing the individual threatening to harm others from the community so they cannot access firearms OR cause harm by any other means
  • Take away that person’s firearms, but leave threatening individuals in the community

When presented with the reality of what “red flag” laws entail, an overwhelming 84 percent supported incapacitating the person threatening harm.

Later, respondents were asked the following question, followed by three options,

The State of Tennessee already has many laws on the books that allow for the arrest and immediate detention of someone who is threatening violence or deemed dangerous to themselves or others by a law enforcement officer or a licensed physician or psychologist. Is it a more effective solution to?

  • Enforce existing laws to remove individuals threatening to harm others from the community
  • Enact new red flag laws to take firearms from individuals
  • Makes no difference

The likely voters preferred to enforce the existing laws over enacting new “red flag” laws by 38 points.

As NRA-ILA has noted, Tennessee already has broad civil commitment laws. T. C. A. § 33-6-402 provides for the immediate detention of dangerous individuals experiencing a mental health crisis by a law enforcement officer, physician, psychologist, or certain other designated professionals. This procedure can be utilized when,

(1) a person has a mental illness or serious emotional disturbance, AND

(2) the person poses an immediate substantial likelihood of serious harm… because of the mental illness or serious emotional disturbance,

A person detained in this manner is then evaluated to determine whether they meet the criteria for admission to a hospital or treatment resource.

Tennessee could improve funding and access to emergency mental health services. A 2016 report from the Treatment Advocacy Center determined that the Volunteer State ranked 41 out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in state hospital psychiatric beds per capita.

Further, co/efficient’s polling makes clear that Tennessee voters are willing to support measures that give law enforcement and others the resources they need to protect the public.

In May, Tennessee enacted school safety legislation that provided $230 million in funding to protect schools. This included $140 million to ensure at least one full-time armed school resource officer for every public school.

This legislation is overwhelmingly popular.

co/efficient asked their sample,

So you support the recent bill signed by Governor Lee to enhance safety at public and private schools by adding Police Officers and improving physical security at schools across the state?

77 percent of respondents supported the measure and a mere 14 percent opposed.

Taken together, these results suggest Tennessee voters prefer allocating resources to give law enforcement and others the tools they need to enforce existing law over enacting new laws designed to undermine constitutional rights.

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Louisiana: Senate Passes Constitutional Carry - Take Action Now!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Louisiana: Senate Passes Constitutional Carry - Take Action Now!

Today, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1, NRA backed constitutional carry legislation, on a 28-10 vote. The bill will next be considered in the House. Please contact your state representative and ask them to SUPPORT Senate Bill 1.

Louisiana: Constitutional Carry Advances to the House Floor – Final Vote Imminent

Monday, February 26, 2024

Louisiana: Constitutional Carry Advances to the House Floor – Final Vote Imminent

Today, the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee passed the NRA-backed constitutional carry legislation, Senate Bill 1, by a 10-3 vote. The bill now heads to the House floor for a final vote this week. SB 1 ...

Louisiana: House Committee to Hear Constitutional Carry Monday - Take Action Now!

Friday, February 23, 2024

Louisiana: House Committee to Hear Constitutional Carry Monday - Take Action Now!

Monday, February 26, at 10:00 AM, the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee will hear Senate Bill 1, the NRA-backed constitutional carry legislation. SB 1 was passed by the Senate earlier this week with overwhelming support. Please contact committee members ...

Minnesota: "Assault Weapons" Ban Referred to the Committee on Public Safety Finance and Policy

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Minnesota: "Assault Weapons" Ban Referred to the Committee on Public Safety Finance and Policy

On Monday, House File 3570 was referred to the House Committee on Public Safety Finance and Policy and would ban so called “assault weapons” by expanding upon an existing statute used to define these firearms. The bill ...

South Carolina: Permitless Carry Passes the Senate, Waiting on Concurrence by the House

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

South Carolina: Permitless Carry Passes the Senate, Waiting on Concurrence by the House

Last week, South Carolina moved one step closer to becoming the 28th state to enact Permitless/Constitutional Carry! This effort has been years in the making, clearing a major hurdle by passing the Senate, which has been ...

Ontario Latest Province to Snub Trudeau’s Gun Grab – “Ontario Should Not Be Spending Taxpayers’ Money Towards the Program”

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Ontario Latest Province to Snub Trudeau’s Gun Grab – “Ontario Should Not Be Spending Taxpayers’ Money Towards the Program”

The wheels are coming off the mandatory “assault weapon” gun ban and confiscation scheme that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched four years ago.

Virginia: Mandatory Waiting Period and Other Anti-Gun Bills Headed to the Governor's Desk

Friday, February 23, 2024

Virginia: Mandatory Waiting Period and Other Anti-Gun Bills Headed to the Governor's Desk

Contact Governor Youngkin today and urge his veto!  Anti-gun extremists in the Virginia General Assembly have made diminishing your Second Amendment Rights a top priority this legislative session. This week a slew of gun control ...

Hawaii Justices “Declare War” on U.S. Supreme Court, to the Cheers of Anti-Gun Media

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Hawaii Justices “Declare War” on U.S. Supreme Court, to the Cheers of Anti-Gun Media

In Hawaii, a man who was peacefully carrying a pistol for his own self-protection while on a nature hike was arrested and subject to felony prosecution under state laws that generally confine the possession of ...

Maine: PETITION: Stand with Maine Gun Retailers

Monday, February 26, 2024

Maine: PETITION: Stand with Maine Gun Retailers

Gun Control groups are launching an all-out assault on the Second Amendment in Maine. Their most recent tactic?

New Hampshire: House Advances Critical Gun Owner Privacy Legislation

Friday, February 23, 2024

New Hampshire: House Advances Critical Gun Owner Privacy Legislation

On Thursday, February 22nd, the New Hampshire House of Representatives held floor votes on gun related bills.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.