NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After Gov. Bill Lee officially announced the special session Tuesday, reaction has consistently poured in.
“What kind of state do we want to raise our children in?” Kramer Schmidt said. “A state that, in the aftermath of a mass shooting and educators and amidst soaring rates of gun violence, will sit idly by when the vast majority of Tennesseans are asking for real reform for firearm laws?”
Schmidt is a board member of Covenant Families for Brighter Tomorrows, a new nonprofit formed from Covenant families. Leaders said they’re both pleased and unsatisfied with how the call came down from Lee.
“We understand the frustration that some people have said that they don’t feel that it has gone far enough,” co-founder Sarah Neumann said. “However, after having over 50 meetings with legislators and from where those conversations started, we feel it could have been a lot less.”
They were very happy to see mental health reform and Lee’s emergency relief protection order (ERPO) on his call. The problem they’re running into is Republicans holding firm that the ERPO won’t pass.
“The governor’s included a number of things in this particular call, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with guns or gun rights,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) said. “The call does include language that would accommodate the filing of his proposed extreme risk protection order. As we’ve discussed, I do not anticipate that passing, and I do not support it.”
The move puts the governor at odds with his own party, as Johnson typically carries bills for the governor when he proposes them in the Senate. For that specific bill though, Johnson said he won’t be carrying it.
“Well, I have tremendous respect for the governor. I consider him to be a good friend, and I think he’s been a really, really good governor for our state over the last four and a half years,” he said. “I just disagree with him on this point of public policy.”
If you read the language of Lee’s call, it’s littered with juvenile crime reform, something Democrats say has absolutely nothing to do with the Covenant shooting.
“The winners here are extremist legislators and special interest organizations,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said. “Unfortunately, the losers are Tennessee families.”