Tennesseans petition Gov. Bill Lee for gun reform

By: and - June 1, 2022 10:57 pm
Tears roll down Stephanie Shepherd's face outside Gov. Bill Lee's office during a vigil for gun violence victims on June 1. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tears roll down Stephanie Shepherd’s face outside Gov. Bill Lee’s office during a vigil for gun violence victims on June 1. (Photo: John Partipilo)

More than 70 Tennesseans, including several pastors, walked from Nashville’s Legislative Plaza to Gov. Bill Lee’s office on Wednesday to make a plea for gun reform.

The rally comes in the wake of several high profile mass shootings, including last week’s slaughter of 19 elementary school children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Texas and the May 14 killing of 10 Black shoppers at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo.

Ingrid McIntyre, pastor of community engagement at Nashville’s Belmont Methodist Church, read the names and ages of the Uvalde and Buffalo victims and Kevin Riggs, pastor of Franklin Community Church, read a letter signed by 49 ministers that asked Lee to consider five gun reform steps, including the repeal of permitless gun carry.

Letter to Gov Lee

Shaundelle Brooks, the mother of Akilah DaSilva, who was shot and killed in the 2018 mass shooting at a Nashville Waffle House, addressed the crowd.

After another mass shooting, “All the emotions come back,” said Brooks. “Here we go again: The blaming. My heart goes out to the mothers who have lost children.”

She recounted getting the call from an emergency room physician in 2018 telling her that her son was dead. “I’m tired of empty promises . . . thoughts and prayers with no action,”

Members of the group left 19 stuffed toys outside Lee’s office to represent the 19 Texas children killed and lingered for 90 minutes, the approximate amount of time that elapsed from when the Uvalde shooter entered the school building to when he was killed.

After group members left, Lee’s staff members gathered the toys and threw them in a trash bin.



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John Partipilo
John Partipilo

Working as a photojournalist for 40 years, Partipilo has won awards such as NPPA Best of Photojournalism and nominated for two Pulitzers. His photography has also been featured in national and international publications. Most importantly Partipilo’s work is about people — people in their different environments and people in their different stages of life. That’s the heart of his work. To him people are so important, because they all have a unique story.