After a shooter killed three elementary school children and three educators in Nashville last month, hundreds of student activists flooded the Tennessee Capitol to demand new gun restrictions. On the state House floor, three Democratic members disrupted proceedings by shouting through bullhorns, calling for a debate on firearm access. Those calls went unheeded, Stateline reports. The Republican-led legislature voted last week to expel two of those three members for their “disorderly behavior,” while the Senate Judiciary Committee announced it would not take up any gun-related legislation this session. Gov. Bill Lee joined fellow Republicans in saying that now is not the time for debate. While lawmakers in Tennessee are not going to pass new gun restrictions, lawmakers in Democratic states are citing the Nashville shooting to further their bills. As mass shootings continue to occur regularly — including one that killed five people in a Louisville bank Monday — there is a wide valley between legislative reactions of states led by Republicans and those led by Democrats.
Lawmakers in GOP-led states, including Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia, have passed or are close to passing measures that will expand firearm access, including allowing people to carry guns without a permit and expanding gun access in schools and on college campuses. At the same time, lawmakers in Democratic-led states are steadily enacting new restrictions aimed at preventing further mass shootings, such as increasing the legal age to buy guns, and expanding background checks and “red flag” laws that allow courts to seize guns from people who may be a harm to themselves or others. Democratic lawmakers are passing “reasonable” laws to prevent tragedies, said Allison Anderman of the Giffords Law Center, which advocates for gun safety legislation. “People are genuinely afraid that they themselves or their loved ones will be the victims of a predictable mass shooting,” she said, “and they’re unwilling to look the other way anymore.”