Coalition Calls on Legislature to Pass Gun Reform

Advocate Andy

Students join with pastors to advance gun safety agenda

A coalition of students and pastors operating under the banner Protect Kids, Not Guns held a rally at the Capitol this week to urge the General Assembly to pass key gun safety reforms at an upcoming special legislative session called by Gov. Bill Lee.

Katey Parham, Member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Senior at Vanderbilt University, said, "I believe that all of us, no matter our age, race, or family history, deserve to live free from the fear of gun violence. Today we are gathered on a historic day. This is the day [63 years ago] when our downtown lunch counters were desegregated and it was the bravery of the youth that created the change. I know my generation will continue the efforts of the movement in advocating for a free and just society." She explained that March 27, the day of the mass shooting at The Covenant School, her life trajectory changed as she can no longer stay quiet or just speak at press conferences. She declared that this is a movement and "We are not going anywhere. I should not fear going to an outlet mall, going to school, eating at a Waffle House, knocking on the wrong door or pulling into the wrong driveway [...] This is no longer a red or blue issue. This is a life or death issue. We cannot delay the special session until August 21st. People and children will die unless we act now." 

Rev. Thomas Arkansas, Parent, Advocate and Vanderbilt Divinity Student said, "As a father, a follower of Jesus, a US army veteran, and a concerned citizen, I believe it is important to raise my voice because being silent in injustice is to be complicit. Instead of listening to the thousands of parents, teachers, children, youth, pastors, and doctors who showed up to call for common sense gun reform that the majority of Tennesseans want, Speaker Cameron Sexton and the Supermajority Legislature attempt to distract us from their failure to keep our children safe by dividing us with disinformation about our fellow neighbors based on their race, how much money make, or their genders. This is all part of their place to spread dishonesty and division."

Safiyah Suara, Current Student at Hume Fogg High School and incoming Freshman at Rhodes College said, "Am I the only one who sees how crazy this is? We are treating our schools as war zones instead of places of knowledge. There is only one source of where the danger is coming from and it is the loose and downright appalling gun laws that this state and country have."

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN

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