Tennessee Republican governor calls on state lawmakers to toughen gun laws

Apr 11, 2023, 1:59 PM

FILE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chamber, Feb. 6...

FILE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chamber, Feb. 6, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. Two years after Lee led the charge to allow residents 21 and older to carry handguns in public without a permit, younger adults could soon have the same privilege, with or without the governor's signoff. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)

(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)

(CNN) — Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday urged the state’s legislature to pass additional gun control measures, an especially charged subject in a state that recently suffered a school shooting and the acrimonious expulsion of two Black Democratic lawmakers who called for greater firearm restrictions.

“I’m asking the General Assembly to bring forward an order of protection law. A new strong order of protection law will provide the broader population cover, safety, from those who are a danger to themselves or the population,” Lee said at a news conference, adding that he would like legislators to pass the legislation within the current legislative session, which ends in a few weeks.

The governor said specifics for the order of protection plan had yet to be determined but encouraged lawmakers from both parties to work together on the matter.

It is unclear if the Tennessee House and Senate, which are both GOP-led by a wide margin, will bring up the matter. CNN has reached out to the state’s Senate majority leader and House speaker for comment.

“We should be very serious about real solutions and about getting real solutions across the finish line and I look forward to working with the General Assembly to do just that,” Lee said. “It is possible to get this done. We should work to set aside our differences and accomplish something that Tennesseans want us to get accomplished.”

Double standard? Tennessee GOP seeks to oust 3 Democrats

Lee signaled that he plans to sign an executive order strengthening the state’s gun background checks by setting a 72-hour clock for new criminal activity. Lee said it will also ensure courts will provide timely and accurate information to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations.

The executive order will also require the TBI to analyze the current process for sharing information during the process of buying a gun so changes can be made if necessary, according to Lee.

The governor had previously proposed enhanced school safety legislation and a new budget with funds directed toward increasing school security.

Lee’s push comes in the wake of the Nashville school shooting that left three 9-year-old children and three adults dead in late March. At the time, the shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville was the 19th shooting at a school or university in the past three months that left at least one person wounded, according to a CNN count, and there have been at least 147 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Another mass shooting in America this week — this time in neighboring Kentucky, where a gunman’s rampage in Louisville left five dead — again stirred national conversations about gun control.

Debates in Tennessee, however, have been uniquely emotional. Following calls for more gun restrictions in the wake of the Nashville shooting, three Democratic state representatives led a protest on the House floor using a bullhorn, outraging Republicans, who expelled two of them last week.

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Tennessee Republican governor calls on state lawmakers to toughen gun laws