Second Amendment expert and Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director John Harris continued his Monday interview with The Tennessee Star Report’s Michael Patrick Leahy to outline the requirements and limitations of Governor Bill Lee regarding a proposed special session in August, along with a warning about scenario that could result in red flag legislation passing both chambers of the legislature.
Michael Patrick Leahy: On our news line right now, our very good friend, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association and an outstanding attorney here in Tennessee, Mr. John Harris.
John, you probably haven’t heard this, we’re gonna get into the Governor’s authority to call a special session in a moment.
But you know, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is not a big fan of gun control. He had a town hall. He’s running for president. As a Democrat.
Did you see this, John?
He said he used the town hall in New Hampshire to explain he’s not gonna take guns at all.
Here’s his quote and it sounds, John, like something you’ve said to us many a time.
He said quote, “Anyone who tells you that we can end the violence to our children, that’s going on now by removing people’s guns in the margin has been left by the expansive Supreme Court decision in Bruin is not being truthful with you.”
He said that something has changed in this country. It’s not the guns.
We’ve always had the guns. He believes the focus should shift from guns to investigating how psychiatric drugs impact kids.
John, did you ever think it would come to the day where Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Has the right answer and Governor Bill Lee has the wrong answer?
John Harris: You know, the interesting thing is though, that they’re, when I started doing the legislative work for the Tennessee Firearms Association back in 1995, you know, I’ve been doing this almost three decades.
We passed pro-Second Amendment legislation with rural Democrats, which are very much like Kennedy and the the Republicans in the General Assembly who were in the minority back then. And we actually, in many instances, got more done, made more progress.
Look at where we were and where we got to, then we have made in the last 13 years under Republican governors and Republican supermajorities.
And Lee is an example of that.
Big promises in writing about what he would do and what a strong Second Amendment supporter he is. He currently has a proposal on the table that in no shape or fashion can be fit within the Supreme Court’s statements about what is permissible firearms infringements.
And yet he doesn’t have anything that I’ve seen to talk about or explain how he would fit his proposal within the limited scope of options that the Supreme Court has said government can even consider.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Now, for our listeners who probably haven’t read the Tennessee Constitution recently, the Tennessee State Constitution outlined for us a little bit the Governor’s authority in calling a special session.
John Harris: Sure.
Article III, Section 9 of the Tennessee Constitution, the governor. It is very short and, and not very specific, but it does say the governor has the authority to issue a proclamation to call the legislature into a special session.
He did this about two years ago when he decided that they wanted to give you know, a half a billion dollars of taxpayer money to Ford to build the electric vehicle plant down in West Tennessee. But he has the ability by proclamation which would essentially be sort of like an executive order to call him into session. And in that call, in the proclamation, he has to establish what he wants the focus of the special session to be.
He has to set the agenda and like he did in 2021, he can use that to pretty much tie their hands to consider anything except what he wants them to work on.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Now, I think he’s said in a number of press statements that he wants the special session. Has he yet issued the formal proclamation that’s legally required, for the special session?
John Harris: No, we’ve not seen it. There’s been no indication that one’s been released, and in fact, although he has indicated he plans to call him in on August the 21st, we expect that he’s going to potentially sandbag them a little bit by holding off on the proclamation until the last minute so that they don’t have time to look at what his agenda is and try to come up with pro-gun legislation that they could fit within that narrow agenda.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Boy, this, this does not sound like, you know democracy in action. This, this sounds like the governor wants to jam through a left wing, gun-grabbing agenda to me.
John Harris: Well, it does, and that’s one of the, the curious developments is even though there’s a Republican supermajority in the General assembly, and many people think, well cause of that, he’s got no option.
You gotta keep in mind of 29, I mean, of 99 house members.
There’s 25 of them that are Democrats, voraciously liberal Democrats. There’s not very many, even moderate that I would classify up there now.
And then we know from statements by Speaker Sexton a few years ago that about a third of those house Republicans are really very squishy on Second Amendment issues and very loyal to the governor, who is I think squishy would be an overstatement.
And so Governor Lee can easily put together those Democrats and like Justin Jones and a small, a minority, but only gonna take 25 of them, of the 74 House Republicans, he could potentially pass something in the House easily, and I think easily in the Senate because the Republicans over there.
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