Apr 4, 2023 - News

Tennessee governor announces safety funding after school shooting

Photo illustration of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has unveiled his policy responses to The Covenant School shooting that killed six people last week.

Why it matters: The proposals focused on enhancing school safety, which has broad support in the Republican-dominated legislature.

  • Lee and top lawmakers also endorsed more mental health funding.
  • He said lawmakers should consider other measures, including "keeping those that are a danger away from weapons," in the coming weeks.

Zoom in: Lee is proposing $140 million in new funding to hire school resource officers or guards at every public school.

  • An additional $20 million would go toward public school security improvements, such as magnetic locks.
  • Under Lee's plan, $7 million would be set aside for private school security upgrades. Private schools could use the funding to hire a guard, according to a Lee spokesperson.
  • Lee would also add more funding for school mental health liaisons.

Between the lines: Lee has said he was open to considering something like a red flag law, which allows authorities to take guns away from people who are a danger to themselves or others. But he told reporters Monday it was up to the General Assembly to hammer out the specifics of such a measure.

  • Lt. Gov. Randy McNally voiced support for red flag laws last week, but he cautioned that some conservative lawmakers might oppose it.

What he's saying: "A person who is a threat to themselves or a threat to others should not have access to weapons," Lee told reporters Monday. "To the degree that we can do that, protecting the constitutional rights of our people … we should look at ways to accomplish that."

  • "That's what I anticipate the members of the General Assembly will contemplate," he said.
  • "There are any number of ways that that can be accomplished, and we should look at all of those ways."

Meanwhile: In an update Monday, Nashville police said the shooter — identified as Audrey Hale — kept journals over several months on plans "to commit mass murder at The Covenant School."

Of note: Hale "considered the actions of other mass murderers," per police.

  • Hale, who was killed by police, fired a total of 152 rounds, including 126 rounds from an assault-style rifle.

The shooter's motive has not been established and remains under investigation, police said.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Nashville.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Nashville stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Nashville.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more