TN Church Shooting Reignites Gun Control Debate

Gun control advocates say Sunday’s attack at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ should mean more oversight over gun owners. But Tennessee legislators tend to roll back regulations on gun ownership, not increase them.

Investigators will not say if the four guns recovered after a mass shooting Sunday at an Antioch, Tn., church are legally owned by the accused attacker. It is one of several unanswered questions that likely will rekindle the polarizing debate on gun regulation in Tennessee and across the nation, The Tennessean reports. “High-profile shootings like this often lead to calls for reform, but those calls for reform can come from different directions because Americans have such different views on how to promote public safety,” said UCLA law Prof. Adam Winkler, a Second Amendment specialist. “In many states, there is the push for new gun control laws. But in other states, you’ll see efforts to loosen laws in response to these shootings because in some states the view of the people is that the way to promote public safety is to have more guns.”

In Tennessee, where lawmakers have honored a sniper rifle as a state symbol and regularly give away guns as campaign door prizes, legislative efforts tend to roll back regulations on gun ownership. This year, legislators approved several gun laws, including allowing loaded weapons to be stored in boats without permits and eliminating background checks for gun dealers selling personal firearms. Gun control advocates point to Sunday’s attack at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, which killed one person and wounded seven others, as a call for more oversight of who is allowed to own and carry deadly weapons. “What the answer is, whether it’s gun control (or) … more closely scrutinizing people who obtain guns, keep in mind that would only be feasible or workable for people who obtain guns lawfully … This is going to be a continuing struggle for years,” says Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson. Gunman Emanuel Kidega Samson had a .40-caliber handgun and 9 mm handgun with him in the church and a .22-caliber handgun and semi-automatic AR-15 in his vehicle.