Tennessee Black Caucus event in Memphis focused on gun violence solutions

Gun Rights

Black legislators from around Tennessee met together at the National Civil Rights Museum Friday to discuss a variety of topics in a town hall setting. The Tennessee Black Caucus has been on a state-wide tour since the General Assembly recessed in May.

Much of the discussion centered on the upcoming special session Gov. Bill Lee has called to address gun violence. The caucus reiterated numerous times that what constituents told them during the town hall brings inspiration for the legislation that will be introduced in the special session. The special session will start on Aug. 21.

Gun violence was a central topic. State Rep. Jesse Chism said that much of the firearm debate is not Democrats versus Republicans, rather it is urban versus rural.

“What is good for rural isn’t always good for urban,” Chism said.

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Ideas for legislation like gun safe lock programs for all firearm owners and making it a requirement for all guns stored in cars to have locks on them were mentioned. While the legislators said they want these things to happen, they have attempted for years and have not found success. They hope this special session will bring the change they have lobbied for over the years.

The National Rifle Association was a major point of contention for the caucus. State Rep. Larry Miller said that legislators around the country have been having the same conversations about guns for the last 10 years, but nothing changes.

“But, in Tennessee, the only thing that’s going to change that is when the citizens in these rural counties and our elected officials stop being beholden to the NRA,” Miller said.

Another main point was that the Black caucus said Black Tennesseans have been being killed by guns at higher rates for years, but a special session was only called after the Covenant School shooting whose victims included white children.

“Don’t nobody care when Black children are getting killed in Memphis,” State Sen. London Lamar said.

Brooke Muckerman covers county government. She can be reached at brooke.muckerman@commercialappeal.com and followed on Twitter @BrookeMuckerman.

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