The Memphis Shelby Crime Commission recently distributed its annual report and it included a powerful cause and effect.  The cause being the Tennessee Legislature’s Republican majority and Governor Bill Lee’s passage of permitless carry and the effect as seen in rising gun-related crimes in Memphis.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving from a group of public officials given to political theatrics – own the libs – rather than actual solutions to pressing problems. Look up malfeasance in office in the dictionary and there’s the photograph of the governor and legislators.

Thanks to them, guns are ubiquitous to life – and death – in Memphis, a condition they created all while criticizing Memphis for not doing more to reduce violent crime.

Here’s the cause and effect, keeping in mind that permitless carry went into effect 2021.

Number and percentage of reported violent incidents involving guns in Memphis:

5,215 – 2016
7,402 – 2021
7,266 – 2022
8,110 – 2023

Guns reported stolen from motor vehicles in Memphis:

  816 – 2016
2,043 – 2021
2,478 – 2022
2,125 – 2023


Here’s my blog post from March 29, 2021:

We often wonder what politicians think about us voters, but with Tennessee Governor Bill Lee we now know the answer: he doesn’t give a damn.

Otherwise, he would not inject the threat of gun violence into all of our daily lives with his permitless handgun carry law.  

His gubernatorial legacy is now clear: none of us are safe anywhere.

Well, except for him.

He’s Safe, Not Us

While undoubtedly proliferating the presence of handguns everywhere else in Tennessee, his offices remains off limits for handguns.

Imagine that: he feels strongly about everyone’s right to carry a permitless handgun – but only as long as it’s our lives that are threatened, not his.

Not only does he not allow anyone carrying a gun to enter his offices on Capitol Hill, he has a security squad protecting him when he’s not there. 

Apparently, the only place now safe from his gun-happy politics is his own.

At least we know where we stand.  We are expendable.

Permits To Vote, Free Pass For Guns

Think about it: we now have to show our “permit” – an ID – to vote in Tennessee, and get a permit to drive a car, but a permit to carry your handgun is just too onerous.

Mr. Lee is one of those Republican candidates who campaigns as moderate/conservative but governss from the far right. 

How else to explain that in a state facing educational funding challenges, the impact of a pandemic, an underperforming state economy, growing rural poverty, and much more, but his attention is to defy law enforcement officials and deal with gun carry laws which will cost state government $20 million a year. 

The vast majority of Tennesseeans oppose this unneeded change in the law, but Governor Lee’s motivation is clear: it’s all about pleasing the National Rifle Association, which he called promptly to thank them, celebrate this miscarriage of democratic representation, and high five about a law that’s a solution without a problem. 

That said, he could count on the far right majority of the Tennessee Legislature to join the party.  After all, guns aren’t allowed on the floor of the legislature either. (Look in the dictionary under hypocrisy to see their picture.) 

Ignoring The Warnings  

Throughout U.S. history, local communities have had the power to decide what gun regulations, if any, they wanted, but now governors like Mr. Lee believe that only their opinions matter and they preempt communities from deciding for themselves.  So much for their years of complaints about government acting as Big Brother and their belief that the best government is the one closest to the people.                                                                                                                                                           

Mr. Lee is forcing his opinion on police officials like Mike Rallings of MPD whose officers will now face guns everywhere – from traffic stops to domestic disputes to crime scenes and more. 

And if the law isn’t reckless enough, for it to be pursued after the Atlanta and Boulder mass shootings is shameless at best and unconscionable at worst.  We already don’t feel safe at the grocery store, movie theater, church, mosque, synagogue, and massage spa, and the governor’s new law spreads a cloud of fear and insecurity over Tennessee regardless of where we work or play. 

Meanwhile, divisive leaders like our governor turn to fake Second Amendment arguments to justify their actions.  In the world of Governor Lee and the NRA, the founders of the country meant that a regulated militia and their muskets somehow means that all bets are off when it comes to even regulating assault weapons in public places. 

Bowing To The NRA

To show who is really setting the agenda for Tennessee, Mr. Lee, in a telephone call, kissed the NRA’s ring.  “It is very simple what the founders had in mind and it was to allow the citizenry to be protected against a tyrannical government,” he said. “What’s most important here is we allow the rights of law-abiding citizens to be protected.”  

It’s the sort of nonsensical argument that culture warriors like Mr. Lee make to deliver red meat to a base to distract them from an agenda that does little to improve their lives in substantive ways. 

Here’s the thing: Governor Lee may be reckless but he’s not stupid.  He knows what he’s saying is absurd. 

It was conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger who called these kinds of comments a fraud.   He wrote: “The gun lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word fraud – on the American people by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime. 

“The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state.  The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.” 

The chief justice went so far as to say if it were up to him, “there wouldn’t be any such thing as the Second Amendment.”  It is indeed hard to think of any 27 words that have been warped as completely as the Second Amendment, as the governor now proves again. 

Ignoring Facts 

It’s difficult to fully grasp the scope of what Mr. Lee has done.  

The facts are inescapable: the gun violence rate is highest in the states with the most guns.  In the South, only Alabama and Mississippi have higher rates than Tennessee.   

All in all, it’s hard to understand how Governor Lee sleeps at night.


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