Apr 28, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Tennessee legislature's special session on gun reform likely happening after July 4

A protester sits with an anti-assault rifle sign near the Tennessee State Capitol last month. Photo: Seth Herald/Getty Images

Tennessee lawmakers probably won't return to Nashville to consider gun reforms until after July 4.

Driving the news: Gov. Bill Lee said last week he would call a special session on the issue after lawmakers failed to vote on his proposal to keep firearms away from "dangerous people" during their normal 2023 session.

  • Lee spokesperson Jade Byers tells Axios the governor's office offered lawmakers potential dates "from May through August," and that a time frame after July 4 is likely.
  • The governor's staff has spoken with leaders from both parties to coordinate the special session.

Catch up quick: After The Covenant School shooting, Lee proposed expanding Tennessee's order of protection law to create a system to take guns from people who had threatened to hurt themselves or someone else.

  • The governor released legislative language two days before lawmakers finished their regular business for the year, but lawmakers did not formally consider it.

Between the lines: The proposal faces an uphill climb. Many conservatives in the Republican-dominated General Assembly are wary to embrace any measure that could restrict access to guns, with some dismissing Lee's plan as a "non-starter."

  • Lee tried to address concerns in his plan, which would require a court hearing with legal representation for the subject to determine if they must surrender their guns.

State of play: Some Republican lawmakers have said they want to know more about the Covenant shooter's writings and motive before they consider a policy response. Lee said in a tweet that police plan to release "documents" and other information "very soon."

The big picture: Protesters flooded the state Capitol after the March 27 shooting, which killed three children and three school employees. Thousands came to demand lawmakers take action to combat gun violence.

  • Polling has shown that Tennesseans support measures that block people from guns if they are deemed a threat.
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