NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, Brady, Giffords, and March For Our Lives released the following statement in response to Republican Governor Lee’s official call for a special session, a call he planned to make after the mass shooting at the Covenant School in March. In the months since the shooting, Everytown along with Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, Brady, March for our Lives, Giffords, and Tennesseans from all walks of life have called on leaders to reject efforts to weaken the state’s gun laws and instead find common ground on policies like an Extreme Risk law, which could have prevented the March shooting, and a secure storage law.
“As we head back to school, fear of gun violence is tragically top of mind. We are calling on our lawmakers to take action to protect us and save lives,” said Iman Omer, a volunteer with Students Demand Action and a student at Vanderbilt University. “There is a clear path to a safer Tennessee, and this special session is the first step. Action on gun safety is long overdue, and we are hopeful that this special session will lead to concrete ways to protect Tennesseans across the state.”
“Our communities are facing rampant gun violence in Tennessee but we know it doesn’t have to be this way – and we know lawmakers agree,” said Leeann Hewlett, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action. “We are hopeful that this special session can lead to meaningful progress on gun safety – we cannot wait for yet another tragedy to strike before taking action.”
“Tennessee is in the midst of a gun violence crisis whose weight is often carried most by young people, and Black youth in particular. The upcoming special session is a chance to take meaningful action to prioritize our safety,” said Kayla Powler, March For Our Lives member and Nashville native. “We need to strengthen gun safety legislation, but we also need to avoid causing more harm and that don’t risk criminalizing Black communities. We’re encouraged by this special session and call on legislative leaders to take gun safety seriously and to focus on harm reduction rather than criminalization. Tennessee can address the epidemic of gun violence while being a model to the nation, and March For Our Lives will continue to fight for our state to be one that protects all communities and where gun violence is a relic of the past.”
“In the wake of the school shooting at Covenant, the Nashville community and the nation were left reeling and many asked what could have been done to stop such a senseless attack. We cannot bring back the loved ones lost that March day, but we can prevent future suffering and trauma by taking action now,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady. “This special session has the potential to turn the tides in Tennessee and help free the Volunteer State from the deadly gun violence epidemic. We urge legislators to meet the moment and pass meaningful legislation to save lives.”
“Tennessee legislators have a real opportunity to take action and save lives from gun violence. A special session only emphasizes the urgency to protect children across the Volunteer State, especially as the school year starts again. This is how we honor the three children and three staff members who died at Covenant School: by ensuring that these tragedies never happen again.” said Sean Holihan, State Legislative Director of Giffords.
Tennessee currently has the 12th highest rate of gun deaths in the United States and some of the weakest gun laws in the country. A study found that households that locked both firearms and ammunition were associated with a 78 percent lower risk of self-inflicted firearm injuries and an 85 percent lower risk of unintentional firearm injuries among children and teens compared to those that locked neither. Secure storage legislation goes beyond gun thefts and could aid Tennesseans in protecting both children and adults by helping to prevent unintentional shootings and gun suicides. An Extreme Risk law may have prevented the shooting at the Covenant School and saved six lives. Twenty-one 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.