As yet another deadly year of Tennessee gun violence draws to a close, the City of Memphis today presented a set of 2022 State Government Priorities during the Shelby County legislative delegation meeting, including several key points on improving public safety and reducing gun violence. Among the city’s stated priorities are common sense action to aid local police in reducing gun theft from cars and the adoption of a red flag law.
These priorities will prove critical moving into the new year. 2021 saw high levels of gun violence, including horrific shootings in Collierville, Chattanooga, and beyond. These incidents of gun violence in the state fell against a tragic backdrop of elevated gun violence across the country. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, gun homicides, gunfire at schools, and reports of road rage incidents have reached alarming levels, underscoring the need for immediate action on secure storage, extreme risk laws — also known as red flag laws — and other common sense gun safety measures.
Despite the tragedies of the past year, state lawmakers continue to weaken gun laws. Earlier this year, the Tennessee Legislature passed a permitless carry bill allowing people to carry loaded handguns in public with no background check and no safety training over the objections of law enforcement, faith leaders, medical professionals, and more. The signing came despite the fact that ninety-three percent of Tennessee voters support requiring a permit to carry a loaded handgun in public — including 92 percent of Republicans and 91 percent of gun-owning households.
The people of Tennessee need laws that will make them safer, not less safe. State lawmakers have an opportunity to take meaningful action on gun safety in 2022, and they should follow Memphis’ lead on prioritizing life-saving legislation.
In an average year, 1,193 people die and 2,220 are wounded by guns in Tennessee. Gun deaths and injuries cost Tennessee $9 billion, of which $433 million is paid by taxpayers. More on Tennessee gun violence can be found here.