May 8, 2023 - News

Tennessee governor calls special session on guns for Aug. 21

Illustration of the Tennessee State Capitol building with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Monday that he would call for a special session to discuss gun reforms on Aug. 21.

Why it matters: The Republican governor's decision to call a special session will push lawmakers to consider a policy response to The Covenant School shooting, which killed three children and three staff members in March.

  • The shooting spurred a series of massive protests at the Tennessee Capitol, with thousands of demonstrators urging lawmakers to consider gun reform measures.

State of play: Lee has 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.

Of note: Lee's office is collecting residents' input on the special session online.

Yes, but: Any restrictions on firearms face an uphill climb in the Republican-dominated General Assembly, which has made expanding access to guns a top priority for several years.

  • Lawmakers did not formally consider Lee's proposal before wrapping their normal business for the year in April, but some dismissed it as a "nonstarter."

What he's saying: Lee said "there is broad agreement that action is needed."

  • The governor pledged to "listen to Tennesseans and pursue thoughtful, practical measures that strengthen the safety of Tennesseans, preserve Second Amendment rights, prioritize due process protections, support law enforcement and address mental health."
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