Majority Whip Johnny Garrett: ‘Any Type of Red Flag Law Won’t Go Anywhere in This General Assembly’

May 27, 2023

Live from Music Row, Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – guest host John Harris welcomed Majority Whip Johnny Garrett to the newsmaker line to talk about the probabilities and possibilities of passing pro-Second Amendment legislation.

Harris: On the newsmaker line this morning, we have representative Johnny Garrett from the Goodlettsville area here in Nashville, Tennessee. Representative Garrett, are you with us?

Garrett: I’m here. Good morning.

Harris: Good morning. How are you doing, sir?

Garrett: I’m doing well. How about you with your hosting duties today?

Harris: It’s a new experience. I hope I haven’t bungled it so badly that it’s begun to be something I’ve got to chase down on the internet and purge from every known resource. But I’m glad you were able to join us.

Garrett: I’ve got every confidence the reviews will be fantastic.

Harris: (Laughter) Thank you, sir. Thank you, sir. We I spoke last night at a GOP meeting in Humphreys County and your peer Jay Reedy was there and he talked a little bit about the upcoming special session and he really didn’t have a lot of optimism that anything in the nature of what Governor Lee is calling for is going to be possible, particularly if the red flag Session does not have the manifesto documents released in time.

And we made arrangements early in the week for you to come in and talk a little bit about what you’re hearing as one of the caucus leaders on the special session and what may be the probabilities or possibilities of passing some Pro Second Amendment legislation at that time.

Garrett: I think there are all kinds of possibilities. One thing that we don’t have yet is the actual call, right? What’s it going be limited to? What are we going to be talking about, we can all speculate what that’s going look like.

Once we actually have the call and it’s out there and we know exactly what subject matter is going to be addressed, then we can start looking at things that may or may not be possible. What I can tell you is that any type of red flag law won’t go anywhere in this General Assembly.

There are probably even a few Democrats that are not going to look at taking someone’s constitutional rights first before we actually address any problem that individual may have. Regardless if it relates to a weapon or not.

That’s really the fundamental basis of the red flag law that you go after the weapon first, then we deal with the person. I believe we have to deal with the person first, regardless of any object they may use to cause any harm to themselves or harm to others.

And any conversation that would lead down that path, that anything that would lead to a three red flag law it’s just not going happen here. And it’ll be our focus if this special session takes place. To look at how we can handle the root cause of why someone would do what they do.

And you mentioned the manifesto from that tragedy that happened at the Covenant School. And that’s going to be an important insight into what a person like that, what an evil person like that is thinking to see what we can find out about that person before any person even does anything overt as they did.

Is there anything that we can do without that information? That’s going to be a constant question by legislators, what if we could do something based upon the writings and the thought process of this person? Without that, it’s going to be difficult to address some of the things that may need to be addressed.

I think that’s why it’s important that the document, or at least some of it. Some of it is going to need to be redacted. Some of the things the public probably doesn’t need to see. But we don’t know. We don’t have any idea what is inside that document, inside that person’s evil mind to create and do this harm. So it’s important that we have that aspect as well should this special session go forward.

Carmichael: I have a quick question for you. I understand that there are laws on the books right now that if somebody is under psychiatric care by a licensed psychiatrist as opposed to a psychologist, who believes that person is a danger to themselves or to somebody else imminently.

John, I think somebody said in the last hour somebody said three is a law on the books that says the psychiatrist has an obligation to inform authorities of the risk that this person in the professional’s opinion is a risk.

Just off the top of my head, my first reaction was that sounds pretty good. Then my next reaction was that’s almost a conflict of interest for the psychiatrist. But then my next question was how often has that ever actually been done in the state of Tennessee? Do you all know if a psychiatrist has ever done that before a person overtly acted?

Garrett: And to my knowledge, I don’t have any personal knowledge of whether or not there’s something that keeps track of that because here’s the problem. This is someone’s personal health information. So that’s highly protected to begin with.

As someone’s health, health status under HIPPA, et cetera. So you’ve got some laws already in the books that protect someone’s health status. So I don’t know that there’s gonna be some sort of database, that’s going to be out there that says, okay, this is how many people we’ve had that have threatened themselves or others inside that doctor’s room so we can tell what we presented.

That is one of our things, and John is well-versed in this area too. That’s one of the things that we’ve been discussing in the past four, five, six months, even prior to the Covenant shooting on how can we relate those two worlds in the health-related world and our background information if it indeed those two systems can be integrated where we would know.

But that can’t be done in the timeframe that we’ve had because of the implications of that privacy and also protecting people’s constitutional and due process rights. And so that’s been some conversation that’s been taking place to figure out those different wavelengths on how we can maybe have those two processes communicate with each other, but that’s going to be a long process, that’s going to be getting a lot of folks involved if that’s even a process that can be integrated for what a psychiatrist or a doctor or a therapist may have and what they’re told inside their office.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Johnny Garrett” by State Representative Johnny C. Garrett. Background Photo “Tennessee House of Representatives” by Tennessee General Assembly.