A group of prominent Southern Baptist Convention leaders and pastors in Tennessee have signed a letter endorsing a gun control proposal brought by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee following the tragic shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School earlier this month. The proposal, known as an “order of protection,” would remove individuals who pose a threat to themselves or society from access to firearms.
“This is a moment in time where people can come together and get something done,” Lee said at a press conference. “When there is a clear need for action, I think that we have an obligation. And I certainly do want to remind people that we should set aside politics and prod and accomplish something that the people of Tennessee want us to get accomplished.
“It is important that we find a way to remove individuals who are a threat to themselves or to our society — to remove them from access to weapons,” Lee continued. “I’m asking the legislature to bring forth thoughtful practical measures to do that, to strengthen our laws [and] to separate those dangerous people from firearms, while at the same time preserving the constitutional rights of the people of this state.”
The letter supporting Lee’s plan was signed this week by 16 prominent Christian leaders, including Randy Davis, president of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, and Brent Leatherwood, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
“We are writing to help articulate the perspective of our churches,” the letter said. “In Tennessee, upward of 20 percent of the populace identifies as Southern Baptist. The members of these churches who gather weekly across the state care deeply about life and the protection of all people made in the image of God. They believe in protecting innocent children from violence and struggling people from self-harm.”
The letter goes on to say that Lee’s proposal would “strengthen” Tennessee’s population from individuals who are a “danger to themselves or others.”
“[Lee’s] framework is a thoughtful approach to ensure we protect the constitutional rights of citizens while also helping to protect potential victims from dangerous individuals. Allowing law enforcement to work with loved ones in order to lead a process that involves full due process in the judicial system, this will ensure individuals who could cause great harm are temporarily kept from accessing weapons, protecting them and others from potential tragedy,” the letter said.
The letter also points to resolutions passed by SBC messengers in 2018 and 2022, which called for measures to reduce gun violence and mass shootings while upholding the dignity and value of every human life. The pastors who signed the letter express their confidence in Tennessee’s legislators and their belief that this proposal is desperately needed.