Apr 11, 2023

3 Democrats Punished for Tennessee Statehouse Protest Over Gun Reform

The lawmakers, known as the “Tennessee Three,” are facing consequences after staging a protest after the Nashville shooting.
3 Democrats Punished for Tennessee Statehouse Protest Over Gun Reform
Vice President Kamala Harris meets with the "Tennessee Three" on April 7.

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What’s happening? In the aftermath of the deadly mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville perpetrated by a transgender assailant, three Tennessee legislators staged a protest inside the state Capitol, with a mob, on the legislative floor to argue in favor of gun control. They used megaphones to prevent other members from speaking.

Removed from the House: Two of the three Democrat lawmakers were voted to be removed from the Republican-controlled House. They will be able to run again for their old offices in the following election cycle. The two who were expelled, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, were black men while the one who avoided ousting, Gloria Johnson, was a white woman, prompting outcries of supposed racism from critics. One of the lawmakers was reinstated after three days of backlash.

Why it matters: It’s rare to expel lawmakers, and some believe that this will cause other state legislatures to be unduly harsh on those with different political positions than the majority. But as the results of the expulsion votes show, the lawmakers’ choice of disruption rather than legislative communication was viewed as wrong and as warranting pushback.

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