Tennessee Governor: Now Not the Time to Act 

March 29, 2023

Gov. Bill Lee (R-TN) in the state where this week’s mass school shooting occurred, said in his first extended public comments Tuesday that it’s “not a time” to act—yet.

Lee posted a five-minute video statement on Twitter Tuesday evening.

“What happened at Covenant School was a tragedy beyond comprehension,” he began, referring to Monday’s shooting at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville. Three 9-year-olds and three adults were murdered before police engaged and killed the shooter.

Lee said one of the deceased, 61-year-old Cindy Peak, was one of his wife’s good friends and in fact had plans to join the state’s First Lady for dinner Monday evening. He said another victim, 60-year-old Katherine Koonce was also a family friend.

He then acknowledged the desire to “place blame” and to “argue about a solution that could prevent this horrible tragedy.” 

His message was absent any specific language regarding policy that Tennessee state legislature might enact in the legislation; rather, he said there would “come a time” for those discussions and debates. 

“This is not a time for hate or rage,” he added. “That will not resolve or heal.” 

The governor’s comments came a few hours after President Biden again called on the U.S. Congress to act on gun legislation—specifically, Biden would like lawmakers to renew the assault weapons ban passed in 1994 when he was a Senator, but had been allowed to expire ten years later. 

Police have noted that the Covenant School shooter had been armed with “two assault type rifles and a handgun.”

It would be a challenge for lawmakers to attempt to pass any gun reform legislation in the 118th Congress, though, as Republicans hold the majority in the House. 

On Monday, Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) told reporters there was no way to “fix” gun violence in the U.S.

“It’s a horrible, horrible situation,” Burchett told reporters. “And we’re not gonna fix it. Criminals are gonna be criminals.”

Roughly two-thirds of the public (66%) favored stricter gun laws, according to a July 2022 CNN poll, with more than 4 in 10 saying that the gun legislation enacted last year didn’t go far enough to change things. 

PHOTO: @GovBillLee

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