Brent Leatherwood, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), is calling on TN lawmakers to back a proposal by Governor Bill Lee for an extreme risk protective order law, also known as red flag laws. The proposal would allow the state to temporarily restrict gun purchases if the state deems one to be a danger to themselves or others, yet the criteria that would be used to make the determination remains unclear.
Brent Leatherwood, who is also a parent of three children at Covenant School where the shooting by a deranged transgender assailant took place, shared his experience of receiving a call that a shooter was at the school. In a series of tweets on April 3, he recounted how the trauma and memories of the tragedy would be with his family for the rest of their lives.
“We’ve become numb to these tragedies as a society,” Leatherwood wrote on Twitter. “Defenseless, innocent lives being taken. We should never accept this as a reality. We need to commit ourselves to finding an answer to this epidemic and not rest until it is solved. Count me as a solution seeker on this.”
In a letter addressed to Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, and all members of the legislature, Leatherwood presents an appeal from both his personal experience and on behalf of the majority Southern Baptist sentiment, according to The Tennessean. He urged lawmakers to ensure that no school in Tennessee ever has to endure the same nightmare as the Covenant School tragedy again.
Leatherwood told the lawmakers that Southern Baptists make up one-fifth of the population of Tennessee and have repeatedly called for ways to reduce gun violence, a seemingly veiled threat by the former leader of the TN Republican Party that he may use his power of leadership over Southern Baptists to sway the vote. “Other voices are saying there is too little time left in this legislative session to consider such a proposal. Little credence should be given to that,” he said in the letter, according to the Tennessean.
While tragedies like the one at Covenant School are indeed heart-wrenching and demand our attention, it is crucial to recognize that advocating for the reduction of Second Amendment rights may not be the most effective solution to the problem of gun violence. Studies have shown that gun control measures, such as red flag laws, do not necessarily lead to a reduction in gun-related crime or deaths. Instead, efforts should be focused on addressing the root causes of violence, including mental health, poverty, and education. It is crucial to engage in a meaningful and balanced dialogue to develop effective strategies that uphold the Second Amendment while also working to minimize gun violence.
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Leatherwood’s personal involvement in the Covenant School tragedy appears to be compromising his ability to approach this issue from a biblical perspective. The immense emotional impact of the event on Leatherwood and his family is evident in his tweets and letter to lawmakers and calls into question his ability to remain impartial. This personal connection to the tragedy may, unfortunately, result in a biased perspective that could inadvertently overlook the importance of upholding the Second Amendment and other potential solutions, including the right to self-defense, to the problem of gun violence.
As the head of the ERLC, Leatherwood represents a significant portion of Tennessee’s population, and his actions and advocacy have far-reaching consequences. In this role, it is important that he considers the full spectrum of perspectives and the potential consequences of any proposed policy changes while remaining committed to biblical principles. To this end, it may be prudent for Leatherwood to recuse himself from policy-making decisions related to gun control, as his personal experience could impede his ability to remain unbiased.
Full text of the letter below: