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NEW YORK —  Tomorrow marks one year since the deadly mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, where six people, including three students and three school staff members, were shot and killed. Following the shooting, lawmakers ignored cries for change from survivors, community members, gun safety advocates and Tennesseeans. Instead, Tennessee lawmakers took strides to arm teachers and further loosen gun laws across the state. 

“The tragic shooting at the Covenant School last year will stay with the loved ones of the victims — and the entire Nashville community — for the rest of their lives,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “Even as the headlines fade, our movement will never forget the lives that were senselessly taken that day. We’ll continue to honor their legacy by demanding action from the lawmakers who have still failed to act in the aftermath of this tragedy, and prevent more gun violence from tearing through Tennessee communities.”

“Going to school shouldn’t be a death sentence, but a year ago in Nashville, it was. Gun violence forced its way into the Covenant School and left nothing but trauma and tragedy behind,” said Drew Spiegel, a gun violence survivor and volunteer leader with the Vanderbilt University Students Demand Action chapter. “One school shooting is one too many, but tragically, this has become a reality for many communities across America. We deserve to be safe in our schools, at home, and within our communities without the constant threat of gun violence. These tragedies are a result of our leaders refusing to act, but students won’t back down until our demands are met with meaningful change.” 

“One year ago, our community was changed forever. Words fail to describe the pain and sorrow of knowing these children, teachers, and staff members should be alive today,” said Carol Buckley Frazier, a volunteer with the Tennessee Chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This shooting could have been prevented. That’s why our coalition has demanded change from Tennessee leaders to prevent future tragedies. We’ll continue to work together to build a safer future so that we do not have to live in constant fear of gun violence.”

This week, Moms Demand Action members will join Voices for a Safer Tennessee, alongside other organizations, in Nashville to link arms from Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University through Centennial Park to the Tennessee state capitol to mark one of Tennessee’s darkest days and honor the memory of the hundreds of Tennessee lives lost to gun violence over the last year. 

In the weeks after the shooting, Everytown for Gun Safety along with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers, called on Tennessee leaders to reject efforts to weaken Tennessee’s gun laws and find common ground on policies like an Extreme Risk law, which could have prevented the March shooting. Instead, Governor Lee’s weak proclamation prevented consideration of any meaningful gun safety legislation and set the stage for lawmakers in the majority to file several bills to arm teachers. However, following tireless advocacy by gun safety advocates, survivors, and students – and despite aggressive efforts to tamp dissent, including kicking survivors and mothers out of committee hearings – lawmakers ultimately rejected legislation to arm teachers and passed a proposal to create a public awareness campaign on the secure storage of firearms and make secure storage devices easier to obtain. As lawmakers reconvene this year, they are continuing to focus on increasing protections for the gun industry rather than addressing real problems in the state by passing foundational gun laws. 

While the path to healing looks different for everyone, many survivors of gun violence have found strength in advocacy. In Tennessee, and all across the country, survivors are leading the fight to save lives through action — be that sharing their stories at community events, advocating at statehouses, or fighting to hold the gun industry accountable.

Since 2015, Everytown has identified nearly 1,200 incidents of gunfire on school grounds. Many of these shootings were committed by minors or people associated with schools. But gun violence goes far beyond school campuses — every day in the United States, 120 people are killed by guns, more than 200 more are shot and wounded, and countless others witness acts of gun violence. This public health crisis is traumatizing Americans across generations, and the scars stretch far beyond those killed and wounded, impacting the well-being of survivors, their families, and entire communities. 

Tennessee currently has the 12th highest rate of gun deaths in the United States and some of the weakest gun laws in the country. An Extreme Risk law may have prevented the shooting at the Covenant School and saved six lives. Twenty-one states, including Indiana and Florida, have passed an Extreme Risk law. Guns are the number one killer of children and teens in the U.S. and in Tennessee.