Tennessee GOP Lawmaker Orders Removal Of Public From Hearing

During a legislative hearing in Tennessee, families affected by a fatal school shooting in Nashville, along with other gun control advocates, were removed from the room by state troopers on the orders of a Tennessee Republican leader.

The emotional scene unfolded during the second day of Tennessee’s special legislative session, which was called by Republican Governor Bill Lee to consider proposals aimed at keeping firearms away from dangerous individuals.

Sarah Shoop Neumann, a parent of a child attending The Covenant School, were among those removed from the room. Neumann and others were waiting to testify in favor of gun control measures. She later returned to testify against a bill that would allow more teachers to carry guns at school.

Neumann expressed her frustration, saying, “We’re just trying to do something. It’s overwhelming.” The families from The Covenant School were seeking changes to Tennessee’s relaxed gun laws following a school shooting that claimed the lives of three children and three adults.

Governor Bill Lee’s proposal to address gun control issues has faced significant opposition from the Republican supermajority in the state legislature. Several variations of gun control proposals, including extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), failed in a House subcommittee without debate. The public was removed from the committee room during the discussion.

The actions by Tennessee Republicans, including the removal of protesters and a ban on carrying signs inside the Capitol and legislative hearing rooms, have drawn attention and criticism. This follows the expulsion of two young Black Democratic lawmakers earlier in the year for breaking House rules during a demonstration in support of gun control.

While those lawmakers have since been reinstated, the incidents have raised concerns about the supermajority’s ability to impose strict penalties on opponents.

Despite the sign ban, some protesters managed to convey their pro-gun control messages by writing on their bodies, clothes, or phones. The removal of protesters during legislative hearings sparked further controversy, with some gun control advocates clapping in response to an announcement that a bill to allow people with handgun carry permits to bring guns onto K-12 and college school property was stalled. The clapping prompted the committee chairman to order the troopers to clear the room.

The situation highlights the intense debate and divisions surrounding gun control issues in the state of Tennessee, with passionate advocates on both sides of the issue seeking to influence the outcome of the legislative session.

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