The Tennessee Legislature cannot say their names
Teenage protesters, and a few parents, fill the Tennessee House of Representatives gallery on March 30 to ask for safe gun laws.(Photo: John Partipilo)
Evelyn Dieckhaus. Hallie Scruggs. William Kinney. Cynthia Peak. Katherine Koonce. Mike Hill.
Those are names of the students and school staff members killed in the March 27 shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School. The Tennessee Legislature had a chance to do something meaningful and stand up for children, but they did not. Instead, members made it loud and clear that the gun industry is more important than the lives of my grandchildren and I am angry and frustrated but not surprised.
The “Tennessee Three,”Democratic Reps. Justin Jones of Nashville, Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, and Justin Pearson of Memphis, are speaking out to reverse the laws of Tennessee that make it easy for anyone to buy and carry assault weapons.
They may have their microphones silenced but that will not stop them from saying the truth and standing up for the safety of children and I am grateful to them.
It is a shame and disgrace that the legislature put on a show of white power, racism, sexism and hatefulness while the world watched.
I am the daughter of a man who served in the Tennessee Legislature (both the House of Representatives and the Senate) so I saw things going on at a very young age in our Capitol that were bad behavior. Legislators showed up drunk, and were disruptive in the House chambers way back then. My parents had to explain — I was uppity and inquisitive then — that this was not the way to behave and “we do not act like that.”
My father would have been disappointed in today’s group of grownups in the legislature who seemed afraid to talk to the young people who were protesting. I was stunned at the behavior of our elected officials but so proud of people showing up and demanding change.
What can this Angry Grandmother do now?
I will vote and I will find which members of the legislature receive contributions from National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists and I will not support those members.
I will not patronize businesses who support the unfair actions of the Tennessee Legislature. They do not deserve my money.
I will wish that the elected officials who support assault weapons for all had to attend a vigil like I did for the neighborhood child who was killed in the Covenant School shooting.
I will tell my grandchildren that the “Tennessee Three” were punished because they would not remain silent about the need to ban assault weapons and save the lives of children.
I will support teachers. Our leaders expect teachers to do everything and now we are encouraging them to carry guns, whether the teachers want to or not.
I will recommend the book, “The Children,” by the late, great David Halberstam which is the true story of how the courage and actions of students in Nashville forced businesses to integrate. I will hope today’s determination by our protestors will inspire us to demand change in our gun laws.
I will continue to speak the names of the Covenant victims. As our children continue to be killed because of easy access to assault weapons I will pray, “Lord, have mercy” and I will chant “Jesus wept.”
I will follow up my prayers and thoughts with action and I will stress to my grandchildren that while life is not fair,” we have to keep trying.
Y’all take notice. Nashville and Memphis put on a clinic of determination, steadfastness and strength by listening to the protestors who descended on the Tennessee Capitol. Those of us who live in Nashville want a change in our gun laws and the Metro Council of Nashville listened to us and swiftly reappointed Jones, who had just been expelled from the legislature.
Memphis followed a few days later by reappointing Pearson, who had also been kicked out of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
This is why our legislature is crushing any sign of uppityness from Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville. They are punishing us because they can.
They are using gerrymandering to create election districts for petty, vindictive and personal reasons rather than for the good of our communities and now they are trying for more ill gotten gains as they attempt to take over the governing of my home town, Nashville.
I am grateful Gov. Bill Lee is calling a special session to address gun-reform but I am afraid to get my hopes up and expect change. Most of our legislators will not listen to the majority of Tennesseans who want them to pass legislation that makes us all safer. I have never seen a group of so-called leaders who are so tone deaf to the sounds of the people. Sadly, the Tennessee legislative leaders want everyone to know they are not going to stand up to gun lobbyists.
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