Guns and Guardrails

Like most Americans, I refuse to accept the lie that reasonable gun regulations can’t reduce gun violence. (They absolutely can. That’s not a partisan argument; it’s a fact backed by data.) I also refuse to accept the premise that the slaughter of our children, often by other children, is the price we must pay for our elected leaders’ political cowardice. As Moms Demand Action says, “We don’t have to live like this—and we don’t have to die like this.”

The need for common-sense gun law is one issue most Tennesseans agree on. It’s our responsibility to do everything we can to keep our children and our neighborhoods safe.

 

Gun violence is a complex problem that requires a multifaceted solution. To our state legislators who blame mental illness and broken homes, I say put your money where your mouth is:

  • Make it easier to get mental-health care in Tennessee (it’s next to impossible now).

  • Give our K–12 schools the funding to hire all the counselors they need.

  • Give the working poor a hand up, so they’re not under chronic stress caused by demoralizing, destabilizing poverty.

By all means, let’s make robust investments in supportive resources to prevent at-risk Tennesseans from spiraling into suicidal or homicidal behavior. That’s not happening now, and it would help fix many of our other problems too. But we can’t afford to ignore the main reason for America’s epidemic of gun violence: it’s way too easy to get a firearm in many states, including Tennessee.

In 2021, the Tennessee General Assembly made our gun violence problem worse by passing permitless carry—a law that nobody but the gun lobby was asking for. Most registered voters in Tennessee didn’t want it, and police and sheriff’s organizations actively opposed it as dangerous. 

 

When our state legislators pass legislation that we don’t want and that endangers us, who do you think they’re representing?

Red flag laws. Safe storage laws. Universal background checks. Raising the purchasing age from 18 to 21. There are so many evidence-based solutions Tennessee’s gun-lobby-owned lawmakers refuse to try. No single solution will eliminate gun violence, but a thoughtful combination of common-sense regulations can make our state significantly safer for everyone.