JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – President Joe Biden Thursday announced gun control proposals promised on his campaign trail. Republican Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger said the United States already has enough gun laws.
The Kingsport lawmaker told News Channel 11 that she would not support any gun control legislation proposed by the Biden administration, saying she believes she will defend the Second Amendment.
“There’s already laws on the books, and, you know, law-abiding gun owners follow those laws,” she said.
From the Rose Garden, Biden announced some plans for stricter gun control, the same day Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed permitless or constitutional gun carry legislation into law.
“Our governor says ‘go protect yourself, it’s your right,’ but our president is saying ‘no, we’re not going to allow that.’ Thank God we live in a state that will let us protect ourselves and our loved ones, our family, our businesses,” she said. “I’m telling the Biden administration to take your hands off our weapons and leave us alone and let us law-abiding citizens be able to protect ourself, our families, our businesses in the proper way.”
Biden’s announcement came the same day two separate mass shootings occurred – one in Texas and another in South Carolina.
“Nobody condones violence of any kind, and remember, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And you got to go through a lot of things to get a gun legally, and as he sits in his ivory tower with a wall around it and razor wire he’s telling us as law-abiding citizens and law-abiding gun owners that you don’t have the right to protect yourself, your family, your business and to me it’s personal,” Harshbarger said.
“So what he’s trying to do is to crush our rights, and I’m not gonna stand here and I’m not going to stand by and let him do that and neither are a lot of other Republicans and probably Democrats as well because the Second Amendment is an inalienable right. It’s a God-given right the government didn’t give me that right and they’re not going to take it away.”
When it comes to “red flag” legislation, Biden Thursday announced his hopes for a bigger push. Harshbarger said she is against this move.
“What he wants is a national gun registry. What he wants is to put red flag laws into practice, and both those things I disagree with, we already have a mechanism in order to be verified and to go through the process of having background checks, don’t be redundant in what you’re doing. In, if he wants to do something, go out and catch the people coming across the open border that are a mess of weapons and everything coming across, I mean, leave the good people of America alone and leave our Second Amendment alone and that’s my message loud and clear, plain and simple. Let us alone,” she said.
Harshbarger told News Channel 11 the reason she is so adamant on voting in favor of gun rights as opposed to gun laws, is because of personal experience.
“I’ve told you before that I was robbed at gunpoint and if we didn’t have a gun, there would have been a lot of people that probably would not be here today,” she said. “You know, I have my own personal story, and I am always going to be an avid supporter of the Second Amendment, and people in the first district don’t have to worry about me, and I will be there. I’m not gonna, I want to do my part in making sure they don’t take our rights away or don’t infringe in any way on our second amendment because and I’m going to uphold the Constitution when it comes to that.”
Eric Stanton, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Northeast State Community College, said Biden’s gun control announcement was to be expected.
“What you saw today is a campaign promise coming to fruition from President Biden, and now that the Democrats do control the executive branch and the legislative branches of the federal government, there’s a good chance that sweeping gun control legislation will go through and will be passed. I find it ironic that it happens on the same day that governor Lee signs into law, the constitutional carry bill allowing Tennesseans now to openly carry, you know, pending, that they don’t have certain restrictions where they cannot. And so I think what you’re gonna see in the long run is you’re gonna see questions going before the US Supreme Court now that we’re seeing such polarizing opposites, if you will, gun control versus gun rights and what the Constitution, how it was meant to be interpreted in the Bill of Rights in the Second Amendment. When they looked at the right to bear arms. And so I think that eventually what you’re gonna see is you’re gonna see a series of cases or a case go before the US Supreme Court to where the US Supreme Court is going to have to make that determination on what is gun rights versus what is gun control and how that’s going to look going into the future,” Stanton explained.
He said he remains neutral on the subject of gun control as an educator, but personally, Stanton said he hopes both conservatives and liberals will consider stricter reform of gun legislation when it pertains to mental health.
“We used to call it the red flag laws and people hate that terminology so bad they hate red flag and that terminology, but you know what do you do, you know, if you’re a relative of mine and all of a sudden you’re in the mental health crisis, and you’re wanting to get a weapon and I’m afraid you’re gonna do harm yourself for others, you know it’s my duty to stop you from doing so. Just like if the roles were reversed and I was your family member, loved one. And I was in a mental health crisis and was trying to get my hands on a weapon. And do I think sometimes personally, You need to look at versus focusing on modifications to weapons, assault weapons, stuff of that nature, we need to look more at the mental health aspects of it, and that’s just me personally as a citizen,” he said.
He added that if there was anything he would ask of lawmakers, it would be to consider looking into how background checks on mental health are done. This, he said, could perhaps stop a tragedy.
“Somebody hell-bent on buying a weapon to do harm can do so either legally or illegally 24 hours a day seven days a week. And, again, I think that gun control helps up to a point. But I think, again, that really, If our elected officials really want to do something good for their communities. They need to look at the mental health aspects of gun ownership. The people that should have weapons and people should not be based on mental health concerns in what do we do when somebody is in a mental health crisis. And I think those are all major questions that need to be addressed by not only our state governments, but also our federal government, instead of making these almost knee jerk decisions on campaign promises and going either far right or far left, I think, again, that’s, that’s what we need to look at it’s the mental health piece of it, and how do we prevent somebody who’s in the middle health crisis from attaining a weapon,” Stanton said.