Tennessee governor Bill Lee proposes $140m for armed guards after Nashville shooting but no gun reform

Governor’s proposals call for more security at schools

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 05 April 2023 04:42 BST
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In the wake of a shooting at a Nashville elementary school which killed six people, Tennessee governor Bill Lee has outlined a public safety plan that directs $140m to putting armed police officers in schools, but doesn’t touch any of the underlying issues driving gun violence, according to critics.

The governor’s plans include a $140m fund to put an armed, trained officer in every public school, as well as $30m for increased threat monitoring, $20m for public school security upgrades, $7m for private school security upgrades, and another $8m for other measures like behavioural health liaisons.

"Today is the next step, but it is not the last step," Mr Lee said on Monday.

"There is a desire to find a way forward that protects kids in schools, and in a better way than we have," he added. "We care very much about them coming home safely, and we will work together to find agreement on a way to move forward."

Critics said Mr Lee’s planned investments do nothing to actually stop guns from getting in the hands of dangerous people.

"It is not a solution to the problem," House Democratic Caucus chair John Ray Clemmons of Nashville told The Tennessean. "I am appalled that Governor Lee would rather militarize our schools and make our children feel imprisoned in their own learning environment than reach across the aisle to pass common sense gun safety legislation."

The Covenant School, where gunman Audrey Hale killed three students and three staff members, is a private elementary school, and some teachers there already carried guns.

As The Independent reported, research suggests armed police officers in schools don’t stop shootings from happening or being more severe, and sometimes make things worse.

Following the Nashville shooting, the atmosphere at the Tennessee capitol has been intense as a city and state channels its grief into attempts at reforms.

Republican lawmakers have filed attempts to expel three Democratic representatives who participated in mass protests at the capitol and led protesters in chants from the statehouse floor.

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