‘Tennessee Three’ discuss gun control with President Biden at the White House

Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 7:17 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Tennessee lawmakers expelled for protesting on their state house floor met the president Monday. President Biden welcomed the so-called “Tennessee Three” to the oval office to discuss their efforts to bring more gun control to their state. The conversation took place as all four Democrats struggle with political realities not conducive to passing more reforms.

“It’s not about palatability. It’s not about palatability in messaging. All of us have a moral compass about what is right and wrong,” said State Rep. Justin Pearson (D-Tenn.).

The three state lawmakers, Rep. Gloria Johnson, Rep. Justin Jones, and Pearson spoke in the Oval Office with the president and Vice President Kamala Harris, touching on gun reform proposals at the state and local level. The two black, male lawmakers were expelled from the state house earlier this month. The white female was not.

“You’re standing up for our communities, safer communities, and Democratic values. That’s what it’s all about,” said President Biden.

The group discussed universal background checks, assault weapon bans, gun storage laws, and red flag laws, or extreme risk laws, a type of measure Governor Bill Lee (R-Tenn.) signaled he may support.

The laws are designed to remove guns from the possession of people at risk of doing harm to themselves or others with due process. Johnson believes more Republicans are coming around to supporting measures like these.

“We didn’t even have to speak to them, I think our actions spoke to them,” said Johnson.

Many Republican lawmakers and the National Rifle Association are opposed to red flag laws. The NRA argues they violate the Second Amendment, do not address underlying issues, invite abuse, and are not evidently effective. Republicans in Washington also oppose a federal mandate for these protection orders.

The Tennessee legislature adjourned for the year on Friday. However, the governor immediately said the body will be called back into special session to address gun violence in some fashion. The schedule for the special session isn’t yet known.