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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A special session of the Tennessee General Assembly called by Republican Governor Bill Lee to deal with “public safety” began on Monday as Left-leaning protesters gathered to push for more gun control.
The August 21 special session comes months after a transgender-identifying shooter killed six people at The Covenant School in Nashville, and Lee has advocated for a variation of a red flag law. In his proclamation earlier this month, Lee said that the session would deal with issues of mental health, gun storage guidelines, human trafficking, and “temporary mental health orders of protection.”
The first meeting of the Senate ended after about 20 minutes while the House session went on for almost two hours. Republican Senator Janice Bowling moved to the end the session saying that it there was no emergency that required the extra meeting. Last week Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson said that red flag laws and any kind of order of protection laws had a zero percent chance of making it through during the special session.
Debate in the House focused on the rules, including debate on whether to adopt new disciplinary rules for members who cause disruptions.
During the debate, Democrat lawmakers claimed the rules were undemocratic and Rep. Justin Jones claimed Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton was racist. Jones was previously expelled from the House for helping to lead a protest from the House floor that disrupted proceedings.
After 80 minutes of debate, the rules package passed 73-23. “These rules provide equality for 99 members who represent 7 million Tennesseans,” Republican Rep. Gino Bulso said. “If a member cannot conduct the member’s self with civility, they ought to sit down.”
Democrat Rep. Jeremy Pearson, another of the Democrats who was expelled for leading a protest from the House floor, said Republicans only offer thoughts and prayers after shootings. Pearson previously voted against a bipartisan bill that included school safety measures in the aftermath of the Covenant shooting.
Protesters chanted and screamed at Republican lawmakers as they left the House floor after the session was adjourned. Some protesters in and around the capitol building in Nashville held up signs like “we demand gun reform,” “protect kids not guns,” and “no more dead children.” Several groups were wearing shirts by the group Moms Demand Action and a group of Covenant mothers.
There were several people in attendance who opposed of red flag laws. Chavez Lopez, who works as an electrical engineer in Nashville, said that he was there to make his voice heard and support the Second Amendment. He told The Daily Wire he was disappointed that there were not more pro-Second Amendment protesters present.
Several members of the Nashville Young Republicans were also present at the capitol. “The Nashville Young Republicans are proud to stand with our leaders as they advocate for the safety of our communities across the state. Our Republican leadership needs our support as they continue to fight to ensure that gun rights are not curtailed in our state,” the Nashville Young Republicans told The Daily Wire after both the Senate and House had adjourned.