Memphis Sends 2nd Expelled Lawmaker Back to Tennessee State House

April 12, 2023

On Wednesday the Shelby County Board of Commissioners in Memphis voted to reinstate Justin J. Pearson to his position as a Tennessee state Representative.

Pearson and Justin Jones, both Black, were expelled on April 6 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 calling for gun reform.

Upon his reinstatement, Pearson said, “You can’t expel hope, you can’t expel justice.”

On Monday Nashville’s city council voted unanimously to reinstate Jones to his position in the state House.

The “Tennessee Three” 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 Tuesday in a turnaround, however, Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed an executive order to strengthen background checks, and he pushed for red flag laws.

On Monday, the same day that Jones was reinstated, a mass shooting at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky left five people dead and eight injured, including a rookie officer who remains in critical condition.

In the two-week time span between the Nashville and the Louisville massacres, there were 15 other mass shootings in the U.S., as defined by four or more victims killed or wounded, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Another mass shooting in Washington DC on Tuesday has left one person dead and three others wounded. It was the 146th mass shooting this year.


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