Following Gun Control Protests - Tennessee House Expels Democrat Member

 April 7, 2023

Thursday, the Tennessee House voted to expel state Rep. Justin Jones (D), one of three Democrats alleged to have joined in with protesters who stormed the legislative chambers in a gun control protest last week. Three lawmakers, Democratic Reps. Justin Pearson of Memphis, and Justin Jones of Nashville, all faced being expelled from the state legislature.

CNN reported that, the Tennessee House voted 75-25 Thursday to expel Jones from the House, with votes to remove Reps. Johnson and Pearson scheduled to follow later. According to The Tennessean, notably, the removal of Johnson, Jones, and Pearson actually marks the fourth time legislators have been possibly expelled in Tennessee since the Civil War. The first of three prior times was in 1866, the second in 1980, and the third in 2016.

The Tennessean reported-

“On Thursday, the three House Democrats approached the podium between bills without being recognized to speak, a breach of chamber rules. With a bullhorn, Reps. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, Justin Jones of Nashville and Justin Pearson of Memphis led protestors in the galleries in several chants calling for gun reform.

“Then on Monday, Republicans filed resolutions to expel the three from the House. Waiting outside the  House chamber on Monday night, Jones said a partisan expulsion vote would be "unprecedented."

-The Tennessean

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R), tweeted on April 3-

 “We have always welcomed peaceful protestors to the capitol to have their voices heard on any issue.” [however of the three he said]… “[they broke] several rules of decorum and procedure on the House floor.” [allegedly using] “a bullhorn” [as they] “led protestors in the galleries in several chants calling for gun reform.”…[concluding that]… “Their actions and beliefs that they could be arrested on the House floor were an effort, unfortunately, to make themselves the victims.” And…

“We have heard the voices of the students, the protestors, and individuals from across the state. We cannot allow the actions of the three members to distract us from protecting our children. We will get through this together, and it will require talking about all solutions.”

- Cameron Sexton, Tennessee House Speaker

As if anyone really needed her wisdom on the circumstance, Karin Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary weighed in the matter prior to the vote, calling it “shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent.” She apparently is used to being heard when she puts forward an opinion. In this case, what matters are the families of the victims that have suffered a horrendous loss of life and need to be supported collectively. No one cares what Jean-Pierre thinks.

Protests won’t bring those lost - back, but with an awareness of the fact that this school was targeted because they had no protection – can be a point of change for the positive. Both the governor and the Tennessee legislature are committed to “protecting” the children entrusted to them. They have already taken measures to provide for trained deterrents from among off duty police officers, retired veterans and guardsmen to be available at the schools in Tennessee. This shooting was a tragedy, however, protests that create more turmoil, are not a solution-based response.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

-Maya Angelou
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