On August 22nd, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee called a special session focused on public safety and mental health. In reality, it appeared to be an opportunity to push through multiple measures, including a move towards red flag-like laws, leaving Tennesseans no opportunity to take part in their own democratic process and leaving them without opportunities to comment.
As legislators were flooded with calls from national opposition groups, IWN’s Tennessee Chapter Leader, Michelle Parker, and Chapter members took action and circulated a letter to lawmakers, urging them to err on the side of caution when constitutional rights are potentially at risk.
Parker had this to say:
“The accelerated nature of a special session circumvents the typical legislative process, which disables the opportunity for public comment and participation. Governor Lee gave a platform to a small, activist faction of our legislative body by calling the special session. In my opinion, the chaos that ensued is a direct result of the nature of the special session and did nothing to further the best interest of the constituents of Tennessee.”
The letter reminds Tennessee legislators that we all want to improve school safety and less gun violence, and that the Second Amendment right to carry a firearm outside the home for purposes of self-defense holds special importance for American women.
An Independent Women’s Law Center amicus brief in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The brief shares the stories of women who were put in dangerous positions, but because of Second Amendment rights were able to defend themselves against what could have been an otherwise devastating and traumatic outcome.
The Nashville TN chapter will continue its advocacy with a long term focus to improve school safety while upholding our constitutional rights. The Nashville, TN Chapter will continue to monitor the administration’s actions, vocalize their concerns to their representatives, and call Chapter members to action as needed.
HERE’S THE LETTER:
August 21, 2023
Dear Members of the Tennessee General Assembly,
We represent the Nashville, Tennessee chapter of Independent Women’s Network (IWN), a chapter-based organization that fights to enhance people’s freedom, opportunities, and well-being. On behalf of IWN, we write to remind you that the Second Amendment right to carry a firearm outside the home for purposes of self-defense holds special importance for American women.
We understand and share concerns about gun violence in our communities, and we want gun laws to be followed and enforced. But extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) — also known as Red Flag laws — can come with safety concerns as well, as they can limit the ability of law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves. Overly broad ERPO laws, while intended only to disarm dangerous individuals, can be abused. They invert the principle of due process, forcing gun owners to prove their innocence when facing an accusation, and can come with unclear time frames for the reinstatement of gun ownership rights, even in cases where that right should have never been taken away. Lawmakers should always err on the side of caution when constitutional rights are potentially at risk. We urge you to use extreme caution when weighing such proposals.
Furthermore, for many women who feel disadvantaged by men’s relative size and strength, a firearm can be a great equalizer. In its amicus brief in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, a brief cited twice by Justice Alito in his concurrence, Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) provided data indicating that women remain at a relative self-defense disadvantage vis-a-vis potential attackers.
Below, as cited in the brief, are some of their stories:
Carmon Whitehead’s protective order against her ex-husband proved useless. Despite the order, he poured sugar into her gas tank, punctured her tires, and cut her telephone lines. When he showed up at her door one evening (again in violation of the protective order), she raised a .357 Magnum, pointed it in his direction, and fired beyond him. He hasn’t violated the order since.
Theresa Kingsbury was driving north from Connecticut to New York in the early morning hours when two cars forced her to the shoulder of a deserted road. She was alone and had $5,000 in cash, transporting it from one ski shop to another. She appeared an easy mark. Two men approached her vehicle, one brandishing a hammer. Theresa raised her loaded handgun, and the men fled.
Peggy Landry was out with friends for dinner in New Orleans one evening. When they returned to their vehicle, a man shoved a revolver through the open window and pressed it against her friend’s head demanding money and jewelry. As the women began to pull off their jewelry, Peggy reached for her Smith & Wesson and pointed it at the man. He left.
These are just a few examples of women for whom the right to bear arms has been essential. For more information, please see IWLC’s Amicus Brief in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc v. Bruen.
As members of an all-women organization dedicated to championing public policies that protect and benefit women, we have serious concerns about any proposal that severely limits women’s Second Amendment right to access a firearm for purposes of self-defense As you weigh policy reforms over the course of this special legislative session, we urge you to steer clear of policies that would put vulnerable people, including women in unsafe homes and neighborhoods, in the position of having to beg for permission to defend themselves.
IWN Chapter Nashville, Tennessee