Aug 7, 2023 - News

Covenant School victim's parent speaks out in new ad

Entrance of The Covenant School

Photo: Benjamin Hendren/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A new ad promoting gun reforms in Tennessee features an emotional plea from the mother of a 9-year-old girl killed in the mass shooting at The Covenant School.

  • It is part of a "statewide public education campaign" launched by the nonpartisan nonprofit Voices for a Safer Tennessee ahead of a special session to consider gun reforms.

"On March 27, 2023, our lives were forever changed by simply dropping our girls off at school," Katy Dieckhaus says in the ad, which also features surveillance footage from the shooting.

  • Dieckhaus' daughter Evelyn was one of six people who died in the massacre.
  • The ad was released last week to coincide with what would have been Evelyn's 10th birthday.

Dieckhaus describes Covenant as "a place where Evelyn loved to learn, strengthened her faith and where her life was taken by a troubled person who easily accessed multiple firearms, turning our whole world and family upside down."

  • Police who responded to the scene killed the Covenant shooter, a former student who shot their way into the school with an assault-style rifle.

"Beginning Aug. 21, Tennessee lawmakers will decide whether to pass responsible firearm safety laws that will work towards protecting our children and their right to life," Dieckhaus says.

  • "What's more important?"

State of play: Voices for a Safer Tennessee is advocating for policy changes that have broad support across the political spectrum, like temporarily restricting gun access for people who pose a danger to themselves or others.

  • They also favor closing background check loopholes and gun storage requirements.

What they're saying: Todd Cruse, the group's chairman and treasurer, says they are building a broad coalition with a laser focus on "common-sense solutions."

  • Cruse, who says he is a Republican and a gun owner, is adamant that the group has no problem with responsible gun ownership. He says they simply want guardrails to protect public safety.
  • "We're talking about responsibility. We're talking about reasonable and pragmatic solutions."

What's next: The group will continue to run statewide ads online and on TV in the run-up to the special session.


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