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Tennessee Democrats who exploited Nashville massacre to push for gun control voted against bipartisan bill to make schools safer
Photo by Seth Herald/Getty Images

Tennessee Democrats who exploited Nashville massacre to push for gun control voted against bipartisan bill to make schools safer

After a transsexual radical massacred six Christians at the Covenant School on March 27, Republican Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee lawmakers took swift action to advance legislation that would boost funding and harden security at schools in the state.

HB 322 passed both the state House with a bipartisan 95-4 vote on April 6 and the Senate on April 13 with a unanimous 33-0 vote. Lee is set to sign it into law.

The three Democrats who used the shooting as a springboard for their gun control agenda and media tour did not, however, support the legislation.

Despite having expressed concern over school shootings and invoking the memory of the slain children, Democratic state Reps. Justin Jones of Nashville, Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, and Justin Pearson of Memphis ultimately voted against the school safety bill.

The Tennessean reported that the bill would require schools to:

  • lock exterior doors while students are present;
  • conduct annual incident command bus safety drills, extra to the already required armed intruder drills; and
  • install classroom door locks and secure visitor entry vestibules.

In addition to hardening structural security, the bill would require school districts to ensure staff and experts have the wherewithal required in the event of an emergency. Accordingly, districts must have a threat assessment team and ensure that private security guards undergo annual active shooting training.

Districts will also have to annually provide up-to-date safety plans, floor plans, and security systems access to state and local law enforcement to optimize alignment and interoperability.

While not all of the requirements extend to public charter schools, private schools, and church-related schools, they too will have to ensure that exterior doors are locked, relevant drills are routinely conducted, security guards are trained up, and safety plans are in place.

"While it may not be the full solution to the danger and violence we see in the world, it is certainly a step forward," said House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R).

The three Democrats temporarily expelled from the House — for staging what Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) called an "insurrection" — opposed HB 322, as it did not satisfy their desire to infringe upon Americans' Second Amendment rights or stop access to "weapons of war."

"We don’t want gun battles at our schoolhouse door," Johnson said. "We want our kids to be safe, and to feel safe."

Pearson likened hardening security at schools to making them "more like prisons."

Jones, who has had multiple run-ins with the law, suggested that the addition of more police officers and security at schools was troubling, calling HB 322 a false solution and a "white flag of surrender."

Jones added, "This is an optical spectacle decision to offer these false solutions. You want exposure when we are saying we want you to do something. This is a very political, calculated decision."

Republican Rep. Scott Campbell intimated that Jones and his two comrades were guilty of what they accused the bill's supporters of, saying, "If you want to talk about playing to the cameras, that’s what just occurred."

Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris praised the trio, suggesting that their expulsion was racially motivated and calling their "insurrection" courageous, reported the Guardian.

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