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Tennessee 2023 Legislation Session Wraps Three Weeks Early Without Any Formative Progress on Gun Safety Following the Mass Shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville; Everytown, Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond

April 24, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statement in response to Tennessee lawmakers ending their session without action on gun violence prevention, despite Republican Governor Lee’s call to action, following the mass shooting at the Covenant School. In the weeks since the shooting, Everytown along with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers, have called on Tennessee leaders to reject efforts to weaken the state’s gun laws and find common ground on policies like an Extreme Risk law, which could have prevented the March shooting. Instead, Tennessee lawmakers voted for a bill to further protect gun and ammunition dealers, manufacturers, and sellers against lawsuits. Following the adjournment, Governor Lee called for a special session regarding public safety.

“By ignoring our calls for action on gun safety and instead passing a bill to protect the gun industry, Tennessee lawmakers have made their priorities crystal clear,” said Iman Omer a volunteer with Students Demand Action and a student at Vanderbilt University. “There is a direct path towards a safer Tennessee, and our lawmakers are choosing not to take it. We will continue to hold them accountable until we see the change we need. They better get used to us, because we’re not going anywhere.” 

“While unclear how many more deaths are necessary for Tennessee lawmakers to protect their own constituents, one thing is for certain – we will hold them accountable every step of the way,” said Linda McFadyen-Ketchum a volunteer with Moms Demand Action. “Taking an early vacation while cowering to the gun lobby will only continue to enable these tragedies.”

Following the Covenant Shooting, the Tennessee chapters of Moms Demand Action, and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, have been calling on lawmakers to act on gun safety, repeatedly showing up at the statehouse, holding rallies, and making their voices heard greatly impacted the Tennessee political landscape to advocate for common-sense gun reform. Some of the actions volunteers have taken across the state include:

  • Mobilizing Students Demand Action volunteers in Nashville, Memphis, and across the nation in more than 300 schools to demand life-saving action on gun safety.
  • Holding a press conference with Everytown President John Feinblatt, Nashville Mayor John Cooper, Rep. Val Demmings, and leaders with Students Demand Action, Sari Kaufman and  Zack Maaieh to call on Tennessee lawmakers to pass an Extreme Risk law
  • Testifying against HB1202, a dangerous bill to arm teachers.
  • Joining forces with faith leaders, Repairers of the Breach, Bishop William J. Barber II, and local and national clergy for a march and rally calling for lifesaving action

Tennessee currently has the 12th highest rate of gun deaths in the United States and some of the weakest gun laws in the country. An Extreme Risk law may have prevented the shooting at the Covenant School and saved six lives. Nineteen states — including Indiana and Florida — have already passed an Extreme Risk law. Guns are the number one killer of kids and teens in the U.S. and in Tennessee.

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