NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Prior to Monday’s deadly school shooting, Tennessee Republicans were pushing a bill to expand gun carry access for teachers.
The bill would make it so any person “employed by an LEA (Local Education Agency) as a faculty or staff member at a school within the LEA is permitted to possess and carry a concealed handgun on the grounds of the school.”
Those who choose to carry under this bill would have to complete “40 hours of basic training in school policing.” An amendment shows they would have to submit fingerprints for a background check, as well.
It was scheduled for discussion in the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday or Wednesday, but Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) pushed it to next week. He said it was out of respect for the victims on a phone call.
State Democrats have spent the last 24 hours asking their Republican colleagues to recognize something needs to change.
“I don’t know how to get past this moment of sheer stupidity in our country when we just accept that this is the way that people have to live,” Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) said.
The moves come after tensions flared in the House session Monday night. Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) gaveled down two Democrats after they attempted to speak about the shooting and press Republicans for change.
Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville): “Please don’t say you’re pro-life and then vote to put more weapons on the street.”
Sexton: “Representative Mitchell, you are–”
Mitchell: “Hey, I will speak! I will–”
Sexton: “No sir, you’re under welcoming and honoring and you need to stay—Representative Mitchell, you’re out of order. You can continue, but you have to stay under welcoming and honoring, and you know that, sir.”
Mitchell: “I’ll tell you one thing. There’s six people today I can’t welcome and honor anymore into this hallowed house.”
Shortly thereafter, Sexton oversaw a similar interaction with Rep. Justin Pearson (D-Memphis).
Pearson: “Six people are dead today. I’ve been in this House a couple months, and I saw folks go up to the well, telling me how important it was to defend our second amendment, having to pass resolutions and things like that.”
Sexton: “Representative Pearson, you are out of order. This is announcements, not welcoming and honoring, we’re under announcements. I don’t want to have to rule you out of order, but this is announcements, and I understand you’re new, so I’m going to give you a break. But this is announcements.”
Pearson can be heard yelling in the background, though his microphone has been cut.
“Representative Pearson you’re out of order,” Sexton said. “Next order Mr. Clerk.”
Monday night’s session in both the House and the Senate had dozens of bills set for discussion. Following the shooting, leadership postponed that legislation.
Most of it is now scheduled for Thursday or next Monday.