Three Democrats get hero’s welcome at noisy gun control protests in Tennessee capitol ahead of expulsion vote

In wake of the Nashville shooting, Tennessee lawmakers have avoided supporting any new gun laws

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Thursday 06 April 2023 18:24 BST
'Thoughts and prayers are not enough': Protesters demand gun reform in Tennessee

A group of three Democratic state representatives in Tennessee were met with resounding applause on Thursday from protesters as they entered the state capitol, ahead of a vote later today from Republicans in the House of Representatives to expel the trio for joining in a gun protest last week on the statehouse floor.

Reps Justin Jones, Gloria Johnson, and Justin Pearsonn made their way through a throng of people, fists raised, as police officers held back the amped-up crowd. The group has been protesting at the capitol since the March mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, which killed six people.

On Monday, members of the House GOP wing, which has a supermajority in the chamber, filed a resolution to expel the Democratic lawmakers because they “did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives.”

Last Thursday, thousands of people marched on the capitol to call for new gun laws, including filing into the House Chamber, where the Democratic reps led the group in chants.

Following the Nashville shooting, leaders and lawmakers in the Republican-controlled state government have proposed massive new investments in school safety, including providing $140m for putting more armed police officers in public schools, but have stopped short of placing any limits on access to guns.

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

Tennessee governor Bill Lee has suggested a potential openness to finding ways to remove gun access from dangerous people, but hasn’t put forth any definitive proposals to that effect.

Democratic lawmakers say Tennessee needs to do more to prevent gun violence than invest in school security.

“It is not a solution to the problem,” House Democratic Caucus chair John Ray Clemmons of Nashville told The Tennessean earlier this week. “I am appalled that Governor Lee would rather militarise 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 state permits most residents 21 and older to carry handguns openly or concealed without a permit, and GOP lawmakers are considering further loosening restrictions to firearm access.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in