Tennessee lawmakers split on red flag laws as gun violence survivor pleads for action

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington is shrouded in fog early in the morning Tuesday, Nov....
The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington is shrouded in fog early in the morning Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.(AP Photo/J. David Ake)
Updated: Oct. 1, 2019 at 7:55 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Gun control has the Tennessee delegation at odds on Capitol Hill in Washington. As lawmakers consider legislation following recent mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, there is still no compromise. Some people say the cannot keep waiting for the sides to come together.

“It’s been really tough. I was angry for a long time,” said Carmen Lodato, who lost her mother Ruthanne Lodato in 2014 to gun violence.

The music teacher opened the door to their Alexandria, VA home when a convicted felon shot and killed her with a revolver.

“We’ve endured this horrible loss and we don’t want anyone else to have to go through it,” said Lodato.

Carmen is springing to action, not just by taking over her mother’s music teaching business. Lodato wants gun law reform in the country, a debate burning on Capitol Hill since recent mass shootings. She is pushing for things like universal background checks and so-called red flag laws.

“They’re not band-aid fixes...they’re important bills,” said Lodato.

Representative Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, sits on the House Judiciary Committee that passed multiple pieces of legislation, including red flag laws. The laws, already in place in 17 states, allow courts to issue orders to temporarily confiscate the firearms of individuals deemed to be a risk to others or themselves. Tennessee does not have a red flag law on the books, but Cohen thinks it could help prevent the next mass shooting.

“If we can stop one and save 12 lives or eight lives or 20 lives or whatever it is it’s important. And over a period of time you’re going to save quite a few lives,” said Cohen.

But some House Republicans, like Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tennessee, says red flag laws are a sign that House Democrats are simply aiming to take Americans’ guns.

“I fear that incredibly,” said Burchett.

Burchett says the red flag laws could backfire and lead to wrongful confiscation. He says Americans can already file reports if they feel endangered. The Tennessee Republican wants Congress to address mental health problems, saying that is the key to reducing gun violence rather than tinkering with the Second Amendment.

“Our Constitution is the framework which as a nation we have to hang our hat on,” said Burchett.

The House passed multiple pieces of gun control legislation awaiting approval in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will not bring up anything until he knows he can get President Trump’s signature.

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