In the wake of a deadly shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville earlier this year, Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee sided with leftists calling for increased gun control — and in the process irritating many in his own party.
Although he did call for GOP-backed increased security measures inside of the state’s schools, his response to the shooting also included a push for longer waiting periods and other restrictions in the gun-buying process.
“I do believe we should get it done during this session,” the governor said in April.
With a special session set to end on Thursday, Lee stepped in at the last minute to extend debate on the topic of gun control. State lawmakers were instructed to remain at the Legislature this week with the discussion scheduled to continue on Monday.
“This has been an important week for Tennessee,” he said. “While the legislative process continues, I’m confident that both chambers can work together and make meaningful progress in this special session on public safety.”
Three of the seven measures the governor has put forward have been overturned by state senators during the special session that began earlier this month. Nevertheless, he expressed a belief that the widely unpopular reform proposals will ultimately become law.
“I want to thank the Covenant families for engaging and sharing their story, which brings hope in the midst of great tragedy,” Lee said. “As our efforts continue, I am hopeful and remain committed to making Tennessee a safer place.”
NAGR's Jacob Maerli is on the scene at the Tennessee Special Session fighting any and all Gun Control attempts!
There are various plots to pass "Red Flag" Gun Confiscation and NICS expansion by Gov. Bill Lee and his cohorts.
NAGR will be in Nashville until the fight is won! pic.twitter.com/mmQ67299wg
— National Association for Gun Rights (@NatlGunRights) August 21, 2023
When Republican legislators voted to preemptively adjourn the special session in May, four GOP lawmakers wrote a letter calling on the governor to abandon his demands.
“It is true that the Governor has the constitutional prerogative to call a special session,” the letter asserted. “It is in our view wholly inappropriate to do so when the legislature, which has a supermajority of Members of the same political party as the Governor, has voted to adjourn.”
The Republican legislators went on to cite Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson’s vow that “the Tennessee General Assembly will not pass any red flag law, period.”
As the letter concluded: “Accordingly, your proposed special session, apparently calculated to pressure legislators to pass such a law, strikes us as an expensive, disruptive, futile, and counter-productive publicity stunt.”