Jun 13, 2022 - Politics

Councilmember wants special session on guns

Courtney Johnston poses for a portrait.

Photo: courtesy of Councilmember Courtney Johnston

Metro Councilmember Courtney Johnston called on Gov. Bill Lee to hold a special legislative session to address gun violence, mental health and school safety.

Why it matters: Johnston's letter, which was sent to the governor Friday and shared with Axios, is a rare example of a right-leaning Tennessee elected official demanding the state take action on guns.

  • Gun control is increasingly becoming a bipartisan issue. Seventy percent of Americans and a majority of Republicans think gun control laws should take precedence over protecting gun ownership, according to a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll.
  • Hundreds of demonstrators marched in Nashville over the weekend, calling for an end to gun violence.

Driving the news: A bipartisan group of U.S. senators announced a deal Sunday on legislation to address gun violence, including stricter background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21.

What she's saying: "This is not about gun control. I'm not questioning the Second Amendment," Johnston wrote. "But with that right comes responsibilities."

  • "It shouldn't require more education and licensure to drive a vehicle that was designed for transportation than to get a gun that was designed for the sole purpose of killing."

Context: Johnston is a first-term council member representing the Crieve Hall area. She tells Axios her district has experienced gun crimes.

  • "We've reached a point where we have people being shot at just sitting on their own front porch. We've reached a place where nowhere is safe," Johnston said in her letter to Lee.

Yes, but: Lee has thus far been unmoved by arguments that gun control measures are needed.

  • He signed an executive order last week designed to ratchet up school security and strengthen law enforcement's training for active shooter scenarios.

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