A dozen people, many describing themselves as gun owners, have asked the Blount County Commission not to pass a resolution designating the community a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County” without defining what that means.
Last month, the commission voted to postpone action on the resolution, which had 16 sponsors among the 21 commissioners, and speakers during Tuesday’s Commission workshop asked them not to pass it.
The resolution was in response to a bill that died in the General Assembly this year to allow courts to issue an “extreme risk protection order” to temporarily bar someone from having firearms if that person poses a “significant risk” to themselves or others.
Betsy Smith of Walland noted shortly before Tuesday night’s meeting there was news of a mass shooting in Colorado, and so far this year there had been 21 mass shootings in Tennessee, with 28 killed — 15 of those family members of the alleged shooters.
Speaking of the proposed “red flag law” introduced in the legislature this year, Rhea Morgan of Walland told the commissioners that it would fill a gap because law enforcement officers cannot take guns from a person who may have suicidal thoughts or pose a risk to others if that person has not already been charged with a crime.
She told the commissioners that people can still be Second Amendment advocates and support extreme risk protection orders.
Susan Sneed pointed to the March 1 shooting of an Alcoa woman, while holding a copy of the April 24 issue of The Daily Times, which reported that officers later heard the woman’s son say demons told him to kill his mother. With a red flag law in Tennessee, Sneed said, a life might have been saved.
Sheri Liles of Maryville told the commissioners of the circumstances that led to the loss of her son and daughter-in-law in a murder-suicide in December 2013, which according to The Daily Times archives was the third such incident in the county that year.
Her son was on medications that had “black box” warnings for potential suicidal and homicidal tendencies.
“That dangerous cocktail of mental illness at a crisis moment, combined with mind-altering drugs and the easy availability of weapons leads to disaster,” Liles told the commissioners.
While she also believes in the Second Amendment, she said, “I think that there are ways that we can prevent deaths that don’t have to happen, with reasonable thinking.”