Tennessee House Moves to Expel 3 Lawmakers After Calls for Gun Reform

April 4, 2023

The Republican-led Tennessee House voted Monday to expel three Democratic lawmakers accused of breaking House rules while calling for gun reform Thursday.

The vote passed along party lines 72-33 against Democratic state Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson. House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) called the lawmakers’ floor protest on Thursday an “insurrection.” 

On Monday, Sexton had to ask state troopers to clear the galleries of visitors and the media after Monday’s vote amid an outbreak of chanting and scuffles.

The lawmakers had called for gun reform on Thursday three days after a mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville where three 9-year-olds and three adults were killed.

Also on Monday, students across Nashville walked out of classes and gathered at the Capitol to protest for gun control.

The lawmakers’ call for stricter gun laws came as the state House is considering looser gun laws, including allowing people to carry rifles and shotguns in public without a permit, and to allow faculty or school staff members to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds with a permit.

Monday’s resolution to expel the three lawmakers accused them of “disorderly behavior” and for knowingly bringing “disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions.” Sexton added that the lawmakers had improperly tried to “hold up the people’s business.”

Tennessee has previously only expelled two other lawmakers since the Civil War: Rep. Jeremy Durham (R) in 2016 for alleged sexual misconduct ad Rep. Robert Fisher (R) in 1980, who was convicted of soliciting a bribe. 

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