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Tennessee 2024 Session Ends: Legislature Cruelly Passes Bill to Arm Teachers, PuttingMore Guns in Schools Following the One Year Marker of the Shooting at the Covenant School, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action Urge Governor Lee to Veto


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statements in response to Tennessee lawmakers ending their session following passing dangerous legislation to arm more teachers. For weeks, survivors and advocates for gun violence prevention called on Tennessee leaders to pass common sense gun reform to keep Tennesseeans safe. Instead, lawmakers pushed forward legislation to arm teachers, against pleas from Tennesseans, including families impacted by the deadly shooting at the Covenant School. The bill now sits on Governor Lee’s desk, as Tennesseans from across the state call on the Governor to veto this extreme legislation.

“We had high hopes that after a full year of advocacy following the shooting at Covenant School and other shootings that didn’t even make the headlines, our own lawmakers would understand the urgent need to prevent another senseless tragedy,” said Ibtihal Cheko, volunteer of the Students Demand Action Tennessee chapter and a student at Hume Fogg High School. “They had the opportunity to do the right thing and not only failed to keep us safe but passed legislation that will only further harm us. Governor Lee – you still have the chance to do the right thing. We will continue to show up in droves to demand that lawmakers advance gun safety laws that protect our right to live. If they refuse to listen, we’ll come for their seats next November.” 

“Our kids are supposed to be learning, but instead we all live in fear that someone could bring a gun into classrooms, cafeterias, or hallways, yet our pleas for action continue to fall on deaf ears as lawmakers focus on furthering their ‘guns everywhere’ agenda,” said  Carol Buckley-Frazier, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action. “The fact that Tennessee lawmakers would rather arm teachers than pass basic, common-sense gun safety laws shows how little they care about actually keeping our kids safe. We’re fed up with our lawmakers taking cues from the gun lobby, so we’re tracking votes, we’re taking names, and we will show up to the ballot box to vote out lawmakers who refuse to take action to save lives.” 

Following the inaction and failure to pass common sense gun reform last special session, the Tennessee chapters of Moms Demand Action, and Students Demand Action, have been calling on lawmakers to act on gun safety, repeatedly showing up at the statehouse, holding rallies, and making their voices heard. Some of the actions volunteers have taken across the state include:

  • Tennessee Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action joined a coalition of gun violence prevention advocates for an annual advocacy day to call for action on gun safety
  • Hundreds of Nashville high school students walked out of class and marched to the steps of the Tennessee Capitol for a rally to protest arming teachers
  • Students Demand Acton volunteer wrote an op-ed to advocate against arming teachers
  • Advocates with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action who showed up at the Capitol every day of the session, in committee rooms, in the gallery, and in the rotunda to advocate for common sense gun reform.

During the session, the legislature also passed SB 1657 to require the Department of Health to create and publish a report on annual firearm injuries and deaths. The essential data will help inform community responses to gun violence and future policymaking. Senator Heidi Campbell and Representative John Ray Clemmons were integral in championing this important legislation.

Research shows that arming teachers introduces new risks of gun violence in schools and puts the lives of students, teachers, and law enforcement in danger. Arming teachers and people on campus only increases the chances of students experiencing gun violence at school. We’re seeing this in other states – states with the weakest gun laws tend to have higher rates of gun violence than states with stronger gun laws.

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 already passed an Extreme Risk law. Guns are the number one killer of children and teens in the U.S. and in Tennessee. 

To speak with a Tennessee Moms Demand Action volunteer, please do not hesitate to reach out to [email protected].