Reinstated Tennessee House Member Reiterates Call for Gun Reform

April 11, 2023

Newly reinstated Tennessee House Representative Justin Jones (D) said Monday he would continue his call for gun reform.

“The first thing I do when I walk into this building as a representative is to continue that call for commonsense gun legislation,” Jones said on the steps of the state Capitol moments after the Nashville City Council voted unanimously to reinstate him to his position.

Jones and fellow Democratic lawmaker Justin Pearson, both Black, were expelled  on Thursday by the state House’s Republican supermajority while a third state Representative, Gloria Johnson, who is white, survived the vote against her after the trio—popularly known as the “Tennessee Three”—were accused a week earlier of breaking House rules by joining protesters who were demonstrating for gun reform.

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

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.

On Monday evening Jones was sworn back in soon after his reinstatement. He returned to the House floor to applause. His fellow Democrat, Rep. Antonio Parkinson, introduced him to the session as “our newest member.”

Pearson’s reinstatement will be taken up Wednesday by the Shelby County Commission in Memphis.

Since there are more than 12 months until the next general election in November 2024, a special election still must be held to officially fill the two lawmakers’ seats, according to the Tennessee Constitution.

No date has been set for a special election, but state law says Gov. Bill Lee (R) should schedule them within 55 to 60 days.

Jones’ reinstatement occurred on the same day that the 145th mass shooting in the U.S. this year took the lives of five people, including the gunman, in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Tennessee House Republicans, who had voted along party lines to expel the two lawmakers, released a statement on Monday, saying, “Tennessee’s constitution provides a pathway back from expulsion. Should any expelled member be reappointed, we will welcome them. Like everyone else, they are expected to follow the rules of the House as well as state law.”

PHOTO: @brotherjones_

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