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Rep. Gloria Johnson to reintroduce 'red flag' gun bill in light of Nashville school mass shooting

"If we had a red flag law, that shooting wouldn't have happened," Rep. Johnson (D-Knoxville) said.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is one of 31 states without red flag laws -- also known as extreme risk laws.

These laws are meant to temporarily remove a gun from someone who is at risk of hurting themselves or others with a gun, or stop someone at risk from buying a weapon.

At the moment, 19 states nationwide have adopted red flag laws. This includes states that have experienced school mass shootings -- such as Florida, which passed this policy after the 2018 high school shooting in Parkland.

The question now is – will Tennessee ever adopt this policy in light of Monday's mass shooting in Nashville that killed three young kids and three adult victims.

Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) said she is going to reintroduce a red flag bill again during this year's Tennessee General Assembly second session. 

Her plans to reintroduce the red flag bill comes after it failed in 2021 and 2022. She said both times Republicans voted against it.

"You keep bringing the bill because it's the right thing to do, because it's going to save lives," she said.

Rep. Johnson said she has seen the emotional trauma school shootings have left on students first hand and that is why she continues to push for it.

"If we had a red flag law, that shooting wouldn't have happened," she said.

The Metro Nashville Police Department said the Covenant School shooter was not known to police and had no criminal history, but was placed under a doctor's care for an emotional disorder.

If the bill passes, the policy would temporarily take guns away from a person experiencing a mental crisis. That person would also have to show clear warning signs of being a threat to the public. 

Only police officers will have the access to ask a court to remove guns.  

"I know how critical this is," Rep. Johnson said. "I know it will make a difference. And I know it is the right thing to do. And people need to see who's voting against common sense gun laws."

Data from Everytown, an organization that advocates for gun safety, reports one suicide is prevented for every 10 red flag orders. In Indiana, the state has seen a 7.5% drop in the suicide rate since the state implemented red flag laws.

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