red flag

Man charged with firing rifle at Memphis Fox affiliate has history of mental illness

A man charged with firing an “AR-style rifle” at the locked door of a Fox affiliate in Memphis has a history of mental illness, his mother told the Commercial Appeal.

Police arrested Jarrad Nathan, 26, after he locked himself in the bathroom of a restaurant near the University of Memphis campus. He was charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment after police said a bullet he fired at the glass door at the TV station. Nobody was injured.

Nathan’s mother, Marsha McKinney, told the paper he has been treated for mental health issues isnce he was young. Nathan was shot in March by a friend of his father, she said.

“I think the mental health problems started at 13, 14 years old,” McKinney said. “It has not been an easy road for me, as a parent, to deal with my son… All we can do is pray. I’ve been praying for my son because I have to do what the Lord wants me to do. Now I’ve got to put my foot in the trenches and do what needs to be done and take care of him.”

The shooting comes as Gov. Bill Lee tries to persuade lawmakers to pass a law to prevent people deemed to be a danger to others from accessing firearms.

See you in August? Lee’s special session call faces delays

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters after a bill signing ceremony in Nashville on May 24, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee made a big splash by announcing the night the legislature adjourned for the year that he was going to call lawmakers back into a special session to take up his proposal to curb access to firearms by people with significant mental problems. Many expected the governor to issue the call by the middle of May.

But amid tepid support for the Lee’s proposed language, several Republicans tell The Tennessee Journal they now expect the special session won’t take place until August – or even September.

Even Lee’s backers are wary of having the measure labeled a “red flag” law, which gun rights supporters argue infringe on Second Amendment rights. Democratic President Joe Biden didn’t help matters for Tennessee Republicans when he commended Lee in the aftermath of the Covenant School shooting for expanding background checks and “calling on the Tennessee statehouse to pass a red flag law.”

GOP leaders in the House and Senate are understood to have warned Lee that calling them into session next month would result in either the bill failing outright – or enough absences to deny a quorum for proceedings to get underway.

It remains to be seen whether Lee takes heed of concerns raised by lawmakers or presses ahead with a bill even if it’s doomed to failure. Lee and his wife, Maria, were close friends of one of the teachers fatally shot at the Covenant School and may want to demonstrate they were willing to try to do something, even if lawmakers don’t go along. Some observers liken the situation to when Gov. Bill Haslam pressed ahead with his Medicaid expansion proposal in 2015 despite a widespread recognition that it was unlikely to pass.

Read the language of the ‘extreme risk’ amendment backed by Lee

The Tennessean‘s Melissa Brown reports Gov. Bill Lee is backing an “extreme risk” order of protection bill to block access to firearms for up to 180 days for people who might be a harm to others. The move comes in the aftermath of the mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville.

“We all agree that dangerous, unstable individuals who intend to harm themselves or others should not have access to weapons,” Lee said in a recorded video statement. “And that should be done in a way that requires due process and a high burden of proof, supports law enforcement and punishes false reporting, enhances mental health support, and preserves the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens.”

UPDATE: House Republicans don’t seem particularly interested in pursuing the measure:

Here is the proposed language of the measure:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, is amended by adding the following new sections:


As used in this section and §§ 39-17-1368 – 39-17-1377:

(1)          “Mental illness” means a psychiatric disorder, alcohol dependence, or drug dependence, but does not include intellectual disability or other developmental disabilities;

(2)          “Serious behavioral condition” means a condition in a person who currently or at any time during the past year has had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet psychiatric diagnostic criteria that results in functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits the person’s role or functioning in family, school, occupational, or community activities and includes any mental disorder, regardless of whether it is of biological etiology;

(3)          “Serious emotional disturbance” means the same as defined in § 33- 1-101; and

(4)          “Substantial likelihood of serious harm”:

(A)          Means the respondent does one (1) or more of the following, as evidenced by a substantial step toward the commission of a violent or unlawful act:

(i)            Threatens or attempts suicide or to inflict serious bodily harm on the respondent’s self;

 (ii)          Threatens or attempts homicide or other violent behavior against another; or

(iii)          Places another in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm; and

(B)          Shall not be found based solely on:

(i)            The mere possession of firearms or ammunition that a person lawfully owns or possesses;

(ii)           The commission of any act of self-defense or defense of another that is lawfully justified under § 39-11-611 or § 39-11- 612; or

(iii)          The fact that a person, including, but not limited to, a veteran of the United States armed forces, is receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.



(1)          There is created an action known as a petition for a temporary mental health order of protection, which may only be filed by a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency.

(2)          A petition for a temporary mental health order of protection:

(A)          Must be filed in the county where the respondent resides;

(B)          Does not require the petitioner to be represented by an attorney or post a bond and cannot result in an award of attorney fees;

(C)          Must allege that the respondent poses a substantial likelihood of serious harm by having a firearm or any ammunition in the respondent’s custody or control or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or any ammunition, and must be accompanied by a sworn statement providing the specific statements, actions, or facts that give rise to the petition;

(D)          Identify whether there is a known existing order of protection governing the respondent under title 36, chapter 3, part 6 or under any other applicable statute; and

(E)          Include a physical description of the respondent and the respondent’s last known location.

(3)          The petitioner must make a good faith effort to provide notice of the petition to any known third party who the petitioner asserts in the petition may be at risk of violence.

(4)          A court or a public agency shall not charge fees for filing or for service of process to a petitioner seeking relief under this section.


(A)          Except as provided in subdivision (a)(5)(B), the general sessions courts, circuit courts, and chancery courts of this state have jurisdiction over proceedings under this section.

(B)          The juvenile courts of this state have jurisdiction over proceedings brought against minors under this section.


(1)          Upon receipt of a petition, the court must order:

(A)          A hearing to be held at least three (3) days but no later than five (5) days after the date the petition is filed and must issue a notice of hearing to the respondent. The hearing may be held more than five (5) days after the petition is filed, only at the request of the respondent, but in no event should the hearing be held more than ten (10) days after the petition is filed;


(i)            The appointment of an attorney to represent the respondent. The respondent may elect to employ an attorney of the respondent’s choosing, who should file a notice of appearance with the clerk of the court. A court-appointed attorney shall be paid for services by the administrative office of the courts at the rate set in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 13; and

(ii)           If the court determines based on the petition that the respondent is not able to understand the nature of the proceedings and cannot communicate with counsel in the conduct of the case or if the respondent is a minor, then the court may appoint another person to serve as the respondent’s guardian ad litem. An attorney representing the respondent shall not serve as guardian ad litem; and

(C)          The respondent to undergo an assessment for suicidal or homicidal ideation by an evaluator who has been certified by the commissioner of mental health and substance abuse services, which must occur prior to the hearing. When making this determination, the evaluator and the evaluator’s employer are immune from any civil liability and have an affirmative defense to any criminal liability arising from the evaluation.

(2)          The clerk of the court shall cause a copy of the petition and the order setting a hearing, appointing counsel, and requiring an assessment to be forwarded on or before the next business day to the appropriate law enforcement agency for service upon the respondent as provided in § 39-17-1369.

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Lawmakers keep distance from Lee’s call for gun restrictions

Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) speaks on the Senate floor on March 6, 2023. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

When Gov. Bill Lee delivered his initial comments about the mass shooting at the Covenant School, he was flanked by nearly 40 lawmakers and much of his Cabinet. The governor stood alone when he announced his support for an order of protection law to prevent people who are a danger to themselves or others from having access to guns.

“I’m asking the General Assembly to bring forward an order of protection law. A new, strong order of protection law will provide the broader population cover, safety, from those who are a danger to themselves or the population,” Lee said.

“This is our moment to lead and to give the people of Tennessee what they deserve,” he said.

But Republican lawmakers have been keeping their distance from anything that might be construed as a “red flag” law. For example, here is a lengthy statement issued late Tuesday from Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), who usually carries the governor’s legislation:

I am committed to protecting Tennesseans’ constitutional rights, including the right to due process. I have always been and continue to be opposed to so-called “red flag laws” because they deprive citizens of their rights without due process. I do believe, however, that criminals and individuals experiencing a severe mental health crisis should not have access to firearms. Current Tennessee law prohibits those who have been involuntarily committed for psychiatric treatment or adjudicated as mentally defective from owning, possessing, or purchasing firearms. We must ensure these laws are strongly enforced. Changes to the current law should not be made in haste nor come from a place of emotion. Depriving someone of a constitutional right is a serious matter and any proposal to create an emergency mental health order of protection must be carefully considered, narrowly tailored, and require rigorous due process. To my knowledge, no bill has been drafted. I am not willing to express support for or opposition to a bill that I have not seen.

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) has said he would support “extreme risk” measures on guns, but stressed it was his personal position and not the one held by the Republican caucus.


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