Tennessee Firearms Association opposes Gov. Lee’s executive order

Governor’s order will enhance background checks for the purchase of firearms.
WSMV's Sharon Danquah reports.
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 8:02 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Gun rights advocates believe Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s executive order strengthening background checks may be problematic.

The Tennessee Firearms Association said it understands the push to put an end to mass shootings, but it believes the governor’s executive order is not the right way to go about it.

“Possessing firearms is covered by the second amendment for most people,” Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director John Harris said.

Possessing firearms is a right Harris and other leaders of the TFA believe the governor may be threatening.

“The executive order that he signed, as we read it, shortens the response window that government officials have to 72 hours to report certain types of public records,” Harris said which he said he doesn’t have an issue with.

Lee’s order will speed up the background check process for those looking to buy a gun by requiring public records to be shared to TBI and gun licensing agencies within three days.

“The existing background check process for purchasing a firearm only works when there is accurate and timely information that’s available,” Lee said on Tuesday.

But what Harris said creates an issue is the language in the order.

“His order references all mental health orders, but there are some classifications of mental health orders that have nothing to do with can you purchase a firearm,” Harris said.

TFA members believe this could create issues for hundreds of people who aren’t a threat to their community.

“Depression because a spouse just passed away or a child in a car wreck, that may be a category of mental health, or mental illness, but it’s an acute situation that you recover from as opposed to a permanent life-altering one that creates a risk. So, not all mental health even gives right to a risk, there’s just certain categories,” Harris said.

Harris said although he understands the urgency to solve the mass shooting issue, he believes the focus of Lee’s order should instead be on bettering identification and resources for mental health instead of rushing to limit gun rights.

“The urgency of where he says he wants it passed in the next few weeks, this is much too complicated of an issue to respond emotionally and just knee jerk do something in a couple weeks,” Harris said.

TFA members are now asking lawmakers to take a closer look at what they can do to help solve the mass shooting issue without taking away rights.