May 21, 2024

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Tennessee House of Representatives | Two elected officials were excluded after demonstrating better gun control

Tennessee House of Representatives |  Two elected officials were excluded after demonstrating better gun control

(WASHINGTON) Two Democrats elected from Tennessee, who protested better gun control after a school shooting a week ago, were kicked out of the Republican-majority U.S. state’s House of Representatives on Thursday.

Elected officials voted in favor of expelling Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who joined hundreds of demonstrators at the Capitol on March 30, days after a shooting at a Christian school in Nashville, demanding stricter gun control. The capital of this southern state, where six people, including three children, died.

A third elected Democrat, Gloria Johnson, threatened to withdraw for the same reasons and retained her seat.

Protesters marched into the Tennessee capitol to challenge local elected officials who were in session. “What do we want?” Gun regulations! When do we need it? Now! “, they chanted in the corridors.

MM Jones and Pearson notably used a megaphone to chant “power to the people” and “no action, no peace” at protesters, according to multiple US media outlets.

Photo by Kevin Wurm, Reuters

Justin Pearson

“An elected official expressed his opposition, which is unheard of in Tennessee. It’s never happened in our history,” Justin Jones responded on American television.

“What the country is seeing is that we don’t have a democracy in Tennessee,” he continued. “I will continue to take responsibility for their actions […] It’s not just about me, it’s about trying to silence and alienate the movement we’re trying to carry. »

Such action is extremely rare in the United States. The Tennessee Legislature has only served two elected officials in its modern history, in 1980 and 2016.

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On March 28, Audrey Hale, 28, walked into Covenant School, a Christian elementary school, armed with two assault rifles and a handgun, before police shot her to death.

The tragedy, whose motive is unknown, has sparked great excitement and renewed debate over the circulation of firearms in the United States, where they represent the number one cause of death for minors.

“Today’s exclusion of elected officials who participated in a peaceful protest is shocking, undemocratic and unprecedented,” US President Joe Biden blasted in a statement late Thursday.

“Instead of debating the merits of the issue, elected Republicans have chosen to punish, silence and exclude the representatives elected by the people of Tennessee,” he added, calling again on the US Congress to ban assault rifles.

Yet the president’s appeal is highly unlikely to be heard: Conservatives, staunch defenders of the constitutional right to bear arms, oppose any significant legislation at the federal level.