NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Tuesday, Gov. Bill Lee held a press conference to honor the Metro Nashville officers who took down a shooter at The Covenant School and propose additional public safety measures.
The press conference came about two weeks after six people, including three children, were gunned down at the private Christian school in Nashville. The governor began by thanking the officers who responded for “their professionalism and their sacrifice.”
“We see the challenges they face every day and the lives that are put on the line to protect Tennesseans,” he said. “They made us proud all across the nation. It’s an example of how law enforcement and their professionalism and their sacrifice and their commitment can save lives.”
Lee also acknowledged that the past two weeks have been challenging for many in the state and said the shooting has been a “stark reminder to all of us about what really matters,” adding that “when there is a clear need for action,” he and lawmakers have “an obligation” to “set aside politics and accomplish something.”
In addition to a more than $200 million plan announced last week to enhance school safety, Lee said he is urging the legislature to work together to bring forth measures that will prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands, while also “preserving constitutional rights.”
During the press conference on Tuesday, Lee announced he will sign an executive order aimed at strengthening background checks and requiring the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to review the current process for purchasing firearms.
The order will also set a “72-hour clock” for reporting new criminal activity and ensure courts submit “timely information” directly to the TBI. Lee said the TBI will be required to provide a report within 60 days on any changes necessary to the gun purchasing process.
He also proposed a measure that would broaden the state’s Order of Protection laws. Currently, protection orders are typically granted to protect victims of domestic violence. Lee gave few specifics but said the new measure would broaden that to include situations where a person posed a danger to themselves or the public.
“I believe this will protect victims, that it will hold dangerous people accountable and away from firearms, and that it will preserve constitutional rights at the same time,” he said.
Lee hesitated to call either of his proposals “red flag laws,” but said he wants to push forward new public safety measures by the end of this year’s legislative session. Despite political differences, the governor said he believes “it is possible to get this done.”
When asked specifically about his thoughts on the recent expulsion of two Democratic representatives, Lee said he is staying focused “on a solution for what happened two weeks ago,” and added that “now is the time to set those issues to the side.”
The governor also expressed his sympathy for those in Louisville, Kentucky, who just a day ago endured a mass shooting in which a bank employee shot and killed five people. Lee said he believes measures like those proposed Tuesday could be effective in preventing similar tragedies.
“I’m very troubled about what happened yesterday and certainly what happened in our state a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “That’s why this is so important. This is not just about school shootings… situations like what happened in Kentucky might be averted by what we’re talking about today.”