August 18, 2023 7:00am

Gun control or guns out of control?

Power Poll members think state legislators should address gun violence, but probably won't

Photo of David Waters
Memphis, TN Correspondent

A record number of Power Poll Memphis members responded to this month's questions on gun violence in Tennessee. They share deep concerns about gun violence and low expectations that state lawmakers will do anything about it.

Poll members disagree (86%) with legislative actions that have loosened gun restrictions in Tennessee over the past decade.

"Gun laws can impact gun violence. The one overriding truth is that the more guns that are out there the more guns will be used," wrote Jay Sweeney, principal of Brg3s Architects. "If registration could be used like a car with yearly updates it would help. Storage is a real problem, many cars are stolen not for the car but for the gun. Proper storage should be required and and there should be penalties for improper storage."

They don't think (81%) the Second Amendment precludes lawmakers from taking actions to reduce the supply or availability of firearms in Tennessee.

"We are out of balance with freedoms regarding gun control and the epidemic of violence due to gun availability," wrote Dr. Justin Lawhead, dean of students and vice provost at the University of Memphis. "It saddens me that perspectives are so polarized that lives are lost, and communities are at risk."

They support (92%) Gov. Bill Lee's stated intent to enact a "mental health order of protection" that would remove guns from those deemed at serious risk of harming themselves or others.

"The larger issue is gun ownership by the 'wrong' people," wrote Mark White, creator and host of Our Memphis History. "Gun laws will do nothing to change that fact. Allowing permit less carry was a misstep that should and can be corrected. The mental health restrictions are a slippery slope, but one in which we must err on the side of keeping weapons away from such individuals."

And they don't expect (85%) state lawmakers to make any meaningful changes in gun laws in next week's special legislative session.

"The Tennessee legislature seems poised to come together to do everything BUT address access to guns and gun control," wrote Poll member Cardell Orrin, executive director of Stand for Children in Tennessee. "Unfortunately, the not-so -narrow session looks like it will open the door to more 'tough-on-crime'/mass incarceration efforts that will not actually impact the crime and violence that people are concerned about."

Lee has called a special session of the legislature to begin Monday, Aug. 21, in response to gun violence in Tennessee. The governor is asking legislators to consider 18 topics to "enhance public safety" and "likewise protect Constitutional rights."

But any gun-related legislation has been deemed outside the governor's narrowly defined scope of the session. As the Daily Memphian reported Thursday, a range of gun-safety proposals have been rejected as "outside the scope" of the session.

Lee's special session proclamation asks legislators to consider "temporary mental health orders of protection." But the governor didn't include any language about the possession of firearms.

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

More on This Poll

More Polls

More on This Poll