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Tennessee Drama Continues Over Mass Shooting Evidence

Tennessee had proposed the first law aimed at addressing three basic reforms which, for more than two decades, have been largely overlooked in the aftermath of mass shootings across the United States. The proposed legislation had broad support, with sponsors in both the House and Senate, as well as backing from multiple organizations representing a vast majority of Tennesseans. Much needed reforms.

These reforms would have addressed three fundamental issues:  The psychiatric medication history – the specific psychiatric drug or cocktail of drugs the shooter had been prescribed, and the shooter’s mental health history, including the name of the treating psychiatrist, and the relationship between the behavioral health vendor or contractor and the state and federal government. Good legislative actions that went nowhere. Why?

Rumor has it that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) met behind closed doors to gut the behavioral health accountability section. Then, inexplicably, the House sponsor pulled her own proposed bill at the last minute without any public or private comments.  Why?  Representative Littleton never responded to AbleChild’s calls requesting the reasons behind the derailed reform bill. So, what’s the take-away?

It appears anyone who questions mass shooting investigations, or attempts to get to the fundamental facts, are threatened with ethics complaints, large anti-gun rallies and lawmakers are often harangued by the victims’ families.

The great news is that there are some who care enough to keep trying. For example, there was a joint resolution (1042) passed in the Tennessee Senate to release the documents relating to the Covenant school shooting so that lawmakers can make the appropriate decision regarding mental health laws, mental health funding, and creating legislation to reform the way in which mass shootings are conducted. 

Then, out of the blue, the grieving parents of the Covenant School shooting victims filed an ethics complaint against Senator Todd Gardenhire for his efforts to reform mass shooting investigations, including allowing for critical documents within those investigations being made public.

It is certainly understandable that the victims’ families want to litigate to obtain justice for the loved ones lost; however, it seems absurd to hand over all authority to grieving parents who want to block the release of vital information from the shooting that the public is requesting and may gain great insight into the motive behind the murderous attack. This is about public safety. Where do the victims’ rights begin and the public’s right to know end? 

There is ample evidence of victim families who seem to benefit financially. Sandy Hook comes to mind. Those families reaped great financial gain by suing a gun manufacturer. And, of course, there is the well-funded anti-gun lobby that came out of the shooting called Sandy Hook Promise.  Despite these efforts, its political agenda against the gun industry, the mass shootings continue.

Now, in Tennessee, it appears that the victims’ families are going directly after law makers who believe the public has a right to investigative information…a right to know why such a brutal attack occurred and maybe find a way to stop them from happening. That’s not a lot to ask and surely something these grieving families can understand. 

It’s time for the public to know everything about these mass shooters, including mental health history, mental health treatment medications and any intervention by the state behavioral health industry.  The days of hiding personal information about the shooters must end. It’s time to support those law makers who are trying to be part of the solution.