- Red Flag Law: Governor Bill Lee’s push for a “red flag” law is resisted by concerned moms, who argue it’s more harmful than helpful.
- Gun Control Debate: Ashley Britt and Amanda Suffecool critique gun control measures for not necessarily ensuring safety and having roots in racism.
- Misuse of ERPO: Kristen Benson highlights the potential for aggressors to misuse Extreme Risk Protective Orders, endangering innocent victims further.
Governor Bill Lee, R-Tenn., has been discussing the implementation of a so-called “red flag” law lately. While Lee tried to see to it that his favored measure would have been passed in the last legislative session, luckily, he failed in his efforts.
Since then, Lee called for a special session for the legislators to open up, and many suspect this was in efforts to ram-rod through an extreme risk protective order bill, but many are vehemently against that notion. The DC Project recently went to Nashville, where they held a press conference about so-called gun control measures, the dangers of such, and making known that red flag laws are more harmful than helpful.
On Monday, August 21, 2023, a delegation of several of the DC Project ladies assembled. At the helm was Dianna Muller, the founder of the group, who is a competitive shooter and veteran police officer with over twenty years of experience. Concerning the event, their release stated that the “DC Project-Women for Gun Rights will discuss the upcoming special session on gun control. Hear from moms, law enforcement professionals, survivors of violence, and experts in firearms safety on why they oppose the calls for more gun control. Several House Republican leaders will attend.
The teal-clad ladies drew the attention of several lawmakers and had a decent representation present. Opening up the press event was Tenn. House Assistant Majority Leader Mark Cochran, and he discussed the special session.
I think you will see Tennessee lead the nation in providing solutions that focus on separating dangerous people from society, while protecting your central constitutional liberties. And again, we’re about focusing on individual responsibility and focusing on the holding criminals responsible and for protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.
There were several DC Project delegates and other speakers present who spoke, including:
Ashley Britt, the Tennessee state Director, spoke about her role as a mother and hunter.
“We believe that education is key to safety and violence prevention, not legislation. We want to thank leader Cochran and all of our other Tennessee representatives for being here with us today,” Britt said, “We all want the same thing. To be safe, and we want our children to be safe.” Britt continued:
“Our hearts break after every senseless tragedy, especially when We know that there are meaningful and effective solutions that can make our communities safer. But inevitably, after a tragedy, the gun control lobby immediately turns the conversation to more laws and more restrictions. It’s time to look at the evidence and acknowledge the truth. These policies are failures, and they do not produce the desired results. Gun control policies sound like a good idea, but make it difficult for citizens to defend themselves, which emboldens criminals, increases violence, and makes our community less safe. Common sense to me means that those cities with the most violence and murder like Baltimore, DC, Chicago, that they should adopt the laws of the cities that are not linked to violence. Gun control policies like ERPOs, aka red flag laws, do not keep you safe. Do not Chicago our Nashville.”
Nikki Goser gave an impassioned speech. Her story is one that has led to meaningful legislative change in the state of Tennessee, with the introduction, passage, and enactment of lifetime order of protections becoming policy in the state. Goser had a message for everyone at large;
“Moms Demand Action does not speak for me. I was a victim of a violent crime,” she said. “My husband Ben was brutally murdered in front of me by a man who’s stalking me. I was denied the ability to carry my legal firearm to protect us that night because of the gun-free zone…Policies that Moms Demand support.”
A statement was read by Amanda Suffecool that was prepared by a woman who chose not to attend the event. The woman who was going to speak said that she was concerned about things that were being said on the news about potential violence and decided not to show up. Suffecool said the African-American mother of three asked her to step in and tell everyone about her story.
My journey to gun ownership only started recently. It was during COVID and the whole toilet paper shortage that I realized how vulnerable I was. How would I protect my family in a critical incident? I decided to buy a gun. And I’m speaking today because my experience may be similar to the recorded 14 million first-time gun owners over the past couple of years. It was scary at first, but with training with friends, and then with certified instructors, I was empowered. I am more confident in my own safety and my ability to provide and protect for my children.
I also learned how gun control is steeped in racism, in order to prevent the newly freed slaves from being able to protect themselves. If government ushered in gun control, do you think that I’m not worthy, or capable or trustworthy to handle a firearm? If you say Black lives matter, then stop making it more difficult for us to protect ourselves. Every restriction, every permit, every license makes gun ownership and self-defense a rich man’s game. I can’t afford a bodyguard. And I don’t work in a building with security.
As a woman, I’m smaller. I’m less equipped for violence. And my firearm…my newly acquired firearm is an equal protector. It’s an equalizer. Gun rights are women’s rights. Now I know the Second Amendment is for all Americans. Thoughts and prayers and calls for more gun control isn’t enough. How about letting me defend myself and my family from evil?
Kristen Benson, a survivor of violence, explained that extreme risk protective orders only make things worse for women who are similarly situated as she was.
“Not only am I a mom, but I’m a survivor of sexual abuse and rape. I know what it is to be vulnerable and to live in constant fear,” Benson said, “But I have since dedicated my life to overcoming the terror of my past.” Benson explained she opened up a firearm training company in order to specifically teach life-saving skills to empower women who should not have to live in fear. “Their aggressor can easily manipulate ERPOs against them as a way of intentionally disarming them and rendering them completely defenseless,” Benson said of how the system can be weaponized.
Representative Chris Todd talked about the special session. Todd was highly supportive of the gun rights advocates who attended and observed;
“We stand with you. Most of us get why you’re here. We are on the same page. We know what you’re saying is the absolute truth. We know what our constituents are saying.” Todd also offered up an assurance, “We’re not gonna let anything bad come out of here. We’re gonna make sure your rights and liberties are protected.”
The press conference had many other women and advocates speaking on behalf of the Second Amendment and our civil liberties. With the special session in full swing, we have to remain hopeful that the representatives who pledged their support will ensure no freedom-limiting measures pass.
To catch a partial broadcast of the DC Project press event, watch the embedded video above or at WZTV FOX 17 News, Nashville.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino, facebook at @thepenpatriot and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .