Spitting on Graves? MSNBC Lets Dems Smear Tennessee GOP on Arming Teachers

Gun Rights

Over the last few weeks as a bill made its way through the Republican-dominated Tennessee legislature to permit local areas to decide whether to let teachers concealed carry firearms to deter mass shooters, several MSNBC hosts found it “shocking” and brought on “The Tennessee Three,” their favorite far-left Democrats from the state’s House of Representatives — Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson — to smear Republicans and push conspiracy theories.

MSNBC host Ali Velshi claimed that the new law was “worse than doing nothing,” and, on the April 28 edition of his eponymous weekend show, went along with State Representative Justin Jones’s theory that Republicans hope arming teachers will scare parents away from sending their children to public schools. Velshi responded: “I don’t want my kids going to a place where there’s yet more guns in the school. I’d like zero guns in the schools.”

A bit after Jones declared that Republican Governor Bill Lee “has no conscience and no courage,” weekend host Alex Witt concluded the segment on her April 27 show by gushing: “I’m really glad you were voted back in office.”

A few minutes earlier, among his substantial trashing of Republicans, Jones further declared: “the governor just spit on the face of all these people and spit on the graves of the six people killed by signing this law. Nothing to reign in gun violence like common sense gun laws that would expand universal background checks, ban assault weapons, red flag laws. Instead, he’s putting a law to arm teachers — something that no teachers want in our state.”

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Stephanie Ruhle found the push to arm teachers “almost too much to believe,” and Katie Phang labeled the move “really flawed and dangerous policies.” MSNBC also allowed Democrat guests to claim that no one except pro-gun lobbyists asked for the new law.

By contrast, CNN hosts at least had right-leaning guests on to explain why they support the move. CNN This Morning Weekend host Victor Blackwell had a surprisingly sober reaction on April 28 as he allowed CNN contributor and MRC alum Stephen Gutowski on as a guest so he could explain that some rural schools had difficulty finding qualified resource officers and wanted to open up the possibility of school staff stepping in to fill the void.

A few weeks earlier, CNN weekday host Sara Sidner provocatively quoted left-wing protesters who chanted, “Kill the bill, not the kids” as they opposed guns in schools, and her voice cracked as she discussed the issue, but, unlike MSNBC, at least she did allow State Senator Paul Bailey (R) to appear as a guest.

He recalled that the legislature had already supplied funding to hire more resource officers, but some schools had failed to find qualified candidates, making other options necessary: “We provided over $140 million to go directly to those school districts for them to be able to hire school resource officers. … But the situation is there’s not enough qualified individuals to be able to fill those positions.”

While some of the liberal guests invoked the Covenant school shooting that occurred in the state in 2023, it was not mentioned that that school was a gun-free zone or that nearly all mass shooters who target public places choose gun-free zones to make it less likely they will face resistance, thus pointing to a deterrence value of armed teachers.

And while Democrat guests fretted that armed teachers would lead to more violence, MSNBC hosts ignored research finding that schools with armed teachers tend to be safer.

CNN News Central

April 10, 2024

8:02 a.m. Eastern

JOHN BERMAN (in opening plug): Backlash in Tennessee after lawmakers pass a law that would allow teachers to carry concealed guns in their classrooms.

(…)

8:42 p.m.

SARA SIDNER (before commercial break): All right, up next, some teachers and parents up in arms over a bill in Tennessee that could allow teachers and staff members to carry a gun on school grounds. We’ll talk to the bill’s co-sponsor coming up.

(…)

8:49 p.m.

SIDNER: “Kill the bill, not the kids.” That’s what some parents and teachers are chanting about a bill in Tennessee that allows teachers and school staff to carry guns at school. The bill just passed by the senate — state senate in a 26-5 vote, and now it goes to the house. It allows Tennessee teachers to carry concealed handguns in K-12 schools. The bill also puts the debate over arming educators right back in the spotlight. Currently, 34 states ban teachers and the general public from carrying guns onto public school property according to Every Town for Gun Safety.

Let’s discuss this now with Tennessee State Senator Paul Bailey. You are the sponsor of this bill. First of all, why do you think this will make schools safer for children and staff?

(STATE SENATOR PAUL BAILEY (R-TN))

You know, you said the sheriff’s association is sort of at the forefront of pushing this bill and influenced you certainly — we saw what happened in Uvalde, though, with people who are trained with weapons — police officers who did not respond in a quick matter. What makes you think that teachers  under this kind of stress would be able to handle this with all that they already have to do?

(BAILEY)

All right, I want to play for you what Lauren Shipman-Dorrance has to say about the bill. She is a teacher in Nashville. Here’s what she said.

LAUREN SHIPMAN-DORRANCE, NASHVILLE TEACHER: I really thought the lieutenant governor would listen to the voice of the people. You know, we know overwhelmingly so many Tennesseeans do not support legislation like this. I don’t know if I’d feel safe to stay in a teaching role, to be honest with you.

SIDNER: There is already a shortage of teachers. What do you say to her, that she doesn’t think she’ll feel safe with other folks, staff members, potentially other teachers, walking around armed in a school?

(BAILEY)

I’m curious if any of the schools talked to you about this and asked for this?

(BAILEY)

So, sir, why not — why not pass legislation — why not pass legislation to fund more school resource officers instead of putting this on the teachers or the staff members there who, as you know, are overtaxed? They have to do so many things in classrooms now from being counselors to teaching, you know, math and science and English. Why not just say, “Okay, let’s — let’s fund the resource officers who are trained”?

STATE SENATOR BAILEY: Well, I’m glad you brought that up because we had a special session last year and dealt with that. We provided over $140 million to go directly to those school districts for them to be able to hire school resource officers. And, as of just the beginning of this legislative session at the end of January, $98 million of that had been drawn down into those local school districts for them to be able to provide SRO officers. But the situation is there’s not enough qualified individuals to be able to fill those positions. I’m also carrying legislation that would allow any retired law enforcement officer that would like to go back for at least two years and be a school resource officer to be able to do so without losing their retirement benefits. So we’ve been working in many ways to try to make sure that our schools are as safe as possible here in Tennessee.

SIDNER: State Senator Paul Bailey, thank you so much for coming on and asking — and answering the questions. Appreciate it.

(…)

MSNBC’s The 11th Hour

April 11, 2024

11:24 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Meanwhile, this week, the Tennessee State Senate advanced a bill there to arm their teachers and school staff in the face of local protests. If passed, the move would mark one of the state’s biggest expansions of gun access since the deadly Covenant school shooting that took place in Nashville last year. Here to discuss, Tennessee State Representative Justin Jones. You know him as one of the Tennessee Three. He was reinstated to his position one year ago yesterday after he was peacefully protesting gun violence. And Rachel Wegner joins us — a children’s reporter at The Tennessean and USA Today network. Rachel, what should we know about this bill? Because it’s almost too much to believe.

(WEGNER)

But once they do that, a teacher could have a gun on their belt while teaching the third grade?

WEGNER: Yeah, and another thing that has raised a lot of concerns is that they won’t need to disclose which staff members are carrying weapons in the schools to teachers, parents, and possibly even other teachers around them.

RUHLE: Representative Jones, what is your reaction to this? What are people in your district telling you?

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JUSTIN JONES (D-TN): I mean, so many people are outraged, you know. The Tennessee Republican supermajority continues to hold our state at gunpoint and put more guns on our streets, and now they’re trying to force guns into our classrooms. I think the most asinine thing about this, Stephanie, is that we live in a state where we’ve passed laws saying we don’t trust teachers to pick the books in their classrooms. We don’t trust teachers to pick their own curriculum about history. But now we want to say we want teachers to carry guns in our schools when every parent we saw show up in our committees, said, “Please don’t do this — more guns are not the solution, and they’ll make out children and our schools more unsafe.”

RUHLE: We don’t even provide those teachers with the school supplies they need to do their jobs. Rachel, what are parents and teachers saying about this?

WEGNER: So I would say fairly wide outcry against the passage of the bill now in our state senate has been rolling this week. It is yet to be taken up by our house, but, as we’ve got into that potential hearing, lots of folks are planning to continue their protests and speaking out against this over their concerns for all the ways things could go wrong. Supporters of the bill have, you know, a different viewpoint on that, but teachers, parents, students, I’ve almost unanimously heard them say they’re opposed to it, and they’re worried about what it means.

RUHLE: Representative, what do you say to people who argue, “Well, schools have the option to opt out.” Is that good enough?

(…)

JONES: And so what we’re hearing in our state is people saying that our legislature is morally insane. We have a Republican supermajority that has just lost their mind and, you know, passing laws just last week to honor the Tennessee Rifle the same week that we are recognizing the Covenant tragedy here in our state — a mass shooting that took the lives of three nine-year-olds and three adults, and, you know, we’re going to honor a gun? And the only law that we passed after the Covenant mass shooting was to protect firearms manufacturers. So what we’re seeing is a Republican supermajority that is beholden to the gun industry — that is beholden to gun extremists — that is beholden to the NRA, and that is not listening to the people of Tennessee.

(…)

MSNBC’s The Last Word

April 12, 2024

10:37 a.m. Eastern

STATE SENATOR LONDON LAMAR (D-TN): This is irresponsible! The public school teachers don’t even want the bill! They’re not even asking you for this! We just passed legislation to have SROs in every school — can we see if that works yet?! I’m upset not out of — because I don’t like you all individually — because I’m mad because this bill puts my child at risk and all the mothers I hear that just got put out! They’re saying their children at risk! Look at that gallery! They’re asking you not to do this! (editing jump) Put partisan politics aside — I ask you this all the time, but this bill is dangerous. Don’t do it. (editing jump) Teachers don’t want it, the school districts don’t want it, nobody doesn’t want it, it’s not going to work! It’s going to cause more school shootings. (editing jump) What happened today is a gallery full of mothers who are concerned, and we put them out because you’re trying to put guns in teachers’ hands! We ought to be ashamed, Mr. Speaker.

KATIE PHANG: That was the scene in the Tennessee Senate this week. State Senator London Lamar with her eight-month-old baby and a microphone in her hands begging Republicans not to vote to put more guns in schools. Yes, more guns, not less. This week, Republican lawmakers in Tennessee advanced legislation that would allow some teachers to carry concealed guns. Last April, just days after three children and three staff members were killed in a mass shooting at the Covenant school in Nashville, Donald Trump gave a speech pushing for armed teachers. And so a year later Tennessee Republicans have decided that their solution to gun violence in schools is more guns in schools.

(…)

Representative Pearson, I know that you’re familiar with the being silenced when you’re trying to speak out in that hall, but what is the justification that is coming from your colleagues on the other side of the aisle to vote on a bill and approve it that is not wanted by anyone? It’s been tried before in some other counties in Tennessee — hasn’t worked — and I understand there’s an opt out in this legislation, but — and I understand maybe that the voices in support of this say, “Well, there’s training, and there’s, you know, a certain component of it, but how is it possible that they’re so tone deaf about what’s really wanted to protect the children in these schools?

STATE REPRESENATATIVE JUSTIN J. PEARSON (D-TN): This is a dangerous piece of legislation that puts at risk every child in our schools, including putting our teachers at risk as well. You don’t have a single teacher in our district or in this state who are asking the legislature to pass this type of legislation. And they certainly aren’t asking for us to do it by kicking out mothers from the galleries and those who are advocating on behalf of their kids in the process.

What we are seeing is the cowardice of the Republican party in our state, refusing to address the epidemic of gun violence, which is the number one killer of our children, and instead of ending the epidemic by doing something about the guns that are being proliferated in our communities and doing something that would stand up to the National Rifle Association and the Tennessee Firearms Association, and they’re attacking parents, and they’re actually making our schools less safe. They’re bringing guns into gun-free zones, and this is only going to have horrendous ramifications for children who will access these weapons and these guns — for teachers who might accidentally shoot or harm their students. These are the real challenges that are going to come from this terrible legislation.

(…)

PHANG: I want to harp on this for our viewers to understand. Mothers like Beth Gebhard who talk about this experience, they’re being silenced. These are not politicians, right? These are not — these are not lobbyists for anti-gun or anti-2nd Amendment kind of propositions, These are parents that only want to keep their kids safe. And yet they’re being silenced. They’re being removed from a public forum because they just want to share their concerns about really flawed and dangerous policies and legislation that’s getting passed in your state?

STATE REPRESENTATIVE PEARSON: This is the way that the Tennessee Republican party works. They silence the voices of dissent in order that they can corrupt, be corrupt and use their power and corrupted absolutely using it. And they wield it against anybody that they believe is going to stand up against them. This is why Representative Jones and I were expelled. This is why the mothers are consistently being kicked out of the gallery and kicked out of committee rooms even during our special session to address public safety. They’re not interested in the safety of our kids — they’re not interested in the safety of our teachers. They do not want to end the gun violence epidemic — they only want to proliferate it with bad policies and legislation that is supported by the Tennessee Firearms Association and supported by the National Rifle Association. They are not interested in making our communities safer

(…)

MSNBC’s The Last Word

April 26, 2024

10:43 p.m. Eastern

ALI VELSHI: That was the scene at the Tennessee house chamber this week after Republican lawmakers passed a bill that would allow some teachers to carry concealed guns. There were vocal protests inside the gallery against putting more guns in schools. State troopers once again removed folks for protesting. Inside the chamber, Democratic legislators pleaded with their colleagues not to pass the bill. They argued that in the year since the Nashville Covenant mass shooting, more should have been accomplished by this legislative body.

(…)

Joining us now is the Tennessee Democratic State Representative, Justin J. Pearson. … The country came to know you because of the stand that you and some of your colleagues in the legislature took about having government take a stronger hand in trying to deal with the disasters that you faced in Tennessee — the disaster that repeats itself across this country — and yet here we are today.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JUSTIN J. PEARSON (D-TN): Yeah, I mean, the gun violence epidemic in our state is the leading cause of death for our children. We have a responsibility and an obligation to do everything possible to actually make our schools and our communities safer, and the Republican party of Tennessee led by Cameron Sexton and William Lamberth refuse to do that. Unfortunately, they view arming teachers, increasing the amount of gun violence in schools and in our communities as some form of a solution. No one would have ever imagined that after we experienced the tragedy that we did in the wake of the Covenant shooting, nor the hundreds of lives that we’ve lost due to gun violence just a year ago where 500 people in our state, that our resolution would be: “Let’s try and increase the probability of having more gun violence.” We didn’t pass any red flag laws or extreme risk protection orders. We haven’t addressed anything as relates to gun safety storage, and this is the signature piece of legislation the Republicans have pushed, which is antithetical to anything that anyone in the state of Tennessee that I talked to have wanted to see or for us to get to make our communities safer.

VELSHI: I’m curious as to how it even came to be because if you were going to just not bother, then just don’t bother. This seems to be possibly one worse than not bothering.

(…)

MSNBC’s The Katie Phang Show

April 27, 2024

12:33 p.m. Eastern

KATIE PHANG: So another important issue I know is very near and dear to you is gun violence and the prevention of it. It’s also something that’s been a very important part of my ability to use my platform to spread awareness. In Tennessee, as you know, passing a law that now allows teachers in schools to have concealed firearms. The Republicans there saying that it’s for school safety and to improve the safety of students in schools. What are your thoughts, Congressman, about the fact that Tennessee now allows this?

CONGRESSMAN MAXWELL ALEJANDRO FROST (D-FL): Well, this is people legislating without looking at the facts and without looking at data and just simply doing the bidding of the gun lobby, which seeks to pass legislation that will sell more guns. That’s all the gun lobby and the NRA cares about — selling more guns to teachers, to kids, whoever. And so, unfortunately, they’re not looking at the data that shows us that when there’s more guns in the equation, guess what. It doesn’t make you safer — it makes you less safe. Not just that, but our teachers are already drastically underpaid, especially in the South. We already have a huge teacher shortage, and, on top of that, to add insult to injury, you want to add to the job description: “Carry a firearm and protect your students that way”? Come on, give me a damn break. So this is just politicians doing the bidding of the NRA and not actually doing what we need to do to save lives and keep people safe. And we’re so happy and lucky we have great progressive advocates like Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, Gloria Johnson — they are fighting in Tennessee. But it just goes to show that this fight in the South is real, but we’re not doing it alone.

(…)

MSNBC’s Alex Witt Reports

April 27, 2024

3:49 p.m.

ALEX WITT: Starting now in Tennessee, teachers and other school administrators are now officially allowed to carry concealed handguns on school grounds. Governor Bill Lee signing the bill one year after six people were killed, including three children, when a gunman opened fire at a private Christian school in Nashville. Joining me now is Democratic State Representative Justin Jones, who was expelled from the state house after joining a protest supporting gun reform in the wake of that shooting. He was then voted back in back to office in a special election. Welcome, Justin, I’m glad to have you here. Um, look, there was significant tension as this bill was approved, and I know you were banned from speaking on that floor for two days, and you say you were physically shoved by one of your Republican colleagues. It stemmed from you filming these chants from the gallery. Let’s play this up.

(clip of protesters in capitol chanting, “Blood on your hands”)

What happened there?

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JUSTIN JONES (D-TN): Yes, well, Alex, it is a terrible time in Tennessee because the governor has signed this horrific law that’s going to allow teachers to carry guns. This is the largest expansion of gun laws in our state since the mass shooting at Covenant, and in that gallery, you see my constituents. You see mothers, you see grandmothers, and parents and teachers and students telling my Republican colleagues that they will have blood on their hands. For over a year now, Tennesseans have been showing up to our capital week after week, begging for common sense gun laws, and the governor just spit on the face of all these people and spit on the graves of the six people killed by signing this law. Nothing to reign in gun violence like common sense gun laws that would expand universal background checks, ban assault weapons, red flag laws. Instead, he’s putting a law to arm teachers — something that no teachers want in our state.

WITT: Wow.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE: JONES: And it’s an insult to Tennesseans.

WITT: Justin, I want to talk about the bill specifically because, as we understand it, a staff member would have to complete 40 hours of training, get a background check and a psychological evaluation. They would then also need the approval of school officials and local law enforcement. But, to your point, parents would not be notified because of confidentiality, meaning parents won’t have any idea at all if their child’s teacher has a gun in the classroom. So here’s the question: Would teachers with guns have made a difference in the Covenant school shooting when the killer had an AR-15 assault rifle and a pistol caliber carbine with 30 rounds in it?

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JONES: I mean, that is the insanity, Alex, is that, “What is one handgun going to do against a military grade assault weapon? Nothing. The Covenant school had armed security. I mean, you saw in Uvalde officers were afraid to go in a building with these assault weapons. So this is just a false solution. And really what it’s about — it’s about this idea of trying to proliferate guns in our state. The number one cause of death for children right now is gun violence, and so it’s about proliferating guns and not doing anything to reign in the issue of this uniquely American problem of gun violence.

WITT: Let me ask you this in regards to that. Is this putting too much responsibility on teachers? If, let’s say, they are paralyzed by fear during a school shooting and they can’t shoot, or they accidentally shoot a student or anybody else, could they be blamed for what happens?

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JONES: That’s the point we got no clarity about, is who has liability. They refuse to answer that because the real liability is on the governor and my Republican colleagues, and let me just — I want to say this, too, that this is really also about — I’ve been thinking about this in my head about trying to make parents afraid to send their kids to public schools because so many parents I’ve talked to in my district have emailed me in my office saying, “We don’t know if we can send our kids to schools anymore because we’re scared.” And it’s really about this idea of trying to destroy public education, which the governor has been trying to do, and in pushing guns in our communities. And now they’re in tandem. And so teachers are not asking for this — they’re asking for more supplies — they’re asking for psychologists and counselors, better pay. No teachers in Tennessee are asking to have this law to allow them to carry guns. It’s insanity, and it’s morally inexcusable.

WITT: And — and Governor Lee, couldn’t he have allowed the bill to become law even without his signature. I mean, the fact that he signed it — he wanted to put his name on this bill — what does it tell you?

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JONES: I mean, it tell us that our governor has no conscience and no courage. He lost a friend in the Covenant mass shooting — one of his wife’s friends — and he told us he was going to do something to, you know, to reign in gun violence, and he’s failed Tennesseans — he’s bowed down to the extremists. And he’s really about arming these extreme elements in our community because not only are we talking about arming teachers, but the governor has allowed the Proud Boys to come to our capitol armed — they’ve allowed neo-Nazis to march three blocks away from the capitol where I am right now to march armed. And it’s about arming these extreme elements in our community that are leaving us with trauma and terror. And it’s at the expense of our children’s lives, so he should be ashamed of himself, and it is a dereliction of duty and a dereliction of his oath of office that each of us take as elected officials on Tennessee.

WITT: Democratic State Representative Justin Jones, let’s just put it this way. I’m really glad you were voted back in office. Thank you so much for our conversation.

(…)

CNN This Morning Weekend

April 28, 2024

7:37 a.m. Eastern

VICTOR BLACKWELL: What informs the decision for arming the teachers instead of hiring more law enforcement to patrol these schools?

STEPHEN GUTOWSKI, CNN FIREARMS ANALYST: Well, I think there’s two reasons that advocates go this path. One is that it is actually quite difficult to get enough school resource officers to fill every school on a consistent basis, especially in more rural areas. And the second is that advocates of armed teachers believe that having several people armed in a school will increase the reaction time in case there is some sort of shooting. So those tend to be the main selling points.

(…) 

MSNBC’s Velshi

April 28, 2024

10:40 a.m.

ALI VELSHI: Despite resounding pushback from parents and Democratic lawmakers in Tennessee, on Friday the Republican governor, Bill Lee, signed a shocking bill into law that gives counties the ability to decide whether some educators can legally carry guns in public schools. Republicans in the state house and senate pushed this bill through, claiming that it would reduce gun violence in schools and bolster safety.

(…)

Under the new legislation, some faculty and staff will be able to carry concealed handguns on school grounds but first need to complete 40 hours of training and pass criminal and mental health background checks. But Democrats have continually argued that the state would better served by, among other measures, employing background checks and requiring safe storage of firearms. As legislative debate ensued, leading up to the passage and signing of the bill, Democrats in the house signed off.

(clips of Democrat legislators complaining about the bill)

You’ll probably remember the two people whom you just saw — they are the Tennessee state representatives Justin Jones and Gloria Johnson. Two of them — along with Representative Justin J. Pearson whom I spoke to on Friday night — became the faces of the anti-gun movement in the state last year following the shooting at Nashville’s Covenant school. Three children and three adults were killed in that attack. In the wake of the shooting, the Tennessee Three — as these three have come to be called — joined thousands in protest of the state’s gun laws on the state’s house floor. The decision to fight back — small acts of courage — were not met without consequence. Both Jones and Pearson –= who are black — were booted from the Republican-controlled state house for their actions. Meanwhile, Johnson — who is white — dodged expulsion by one vote. However, both men returned to their seats last fall after their local governments voted to reinstate them. In light of the passage of this new gun law, it’s abundantly clear that the Tennessee Three’s fight for more sensible gun laws is far from over. On the other side of the break, both Justin Jones and Gloria Johnson join me to explain why this new law threatens the safety of classrooms in Tennessee.

(…)

Friends, thank you for being with us this morning and for your continued fight for the safety of our students and our citizens. Representative Jones, you posted on X that (Tennessee) House Speaker Cameron Sexton is growing “drunk with power” and that we are, quote, “witnessing the death of democracy in light of what happened with this vote. Talk to me about what you see happening here. Your state surprised me again in that there were lots of options between doing nothing and doing something, and they seem to have skipped through all of the more productive possibilities and went for the fairly absurd one.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JUSTIN JONES (D-TN): Yes, Ali, well, this is a very sad time for Tennessee. The trauma of our community is once again coming to the surface because at the end of the session my Republican colleagues decided to push forward and push through this asinine, insane bill to arm teachers as the gallery was full of Tennesseans — teachers, mothers, students, clergy — begging them not to, including families whose children are at the Covenant school, including families who have lost loved ones in shootings here in Nashville. And rather than hear them, Republicans pushed this bill forward by cutting off debate and then having the gallery cleared of the public and media when the people in the gallery chanted, “Shame on you,” and that “there’s blood on your hands.”

They had me censured for recording my constituents being drug out the gallery by state troopers. And so I said online that this is fascism — this is a step against democracy — against — and toward authoritarianism and toward this, no, just shameful trajectory of arming our schools more and more — putting more guns in schools — when people have been begging for a year for common sense gun laws that protect kids and not guns. And the governor, by signing that bill, has spit in the face of these families.  He is a coward, and he is somebody who is going to be on the wrong side of history here in Tennessee.

(…)

STATE REPRESENTATIVE GLORIA JOHNSON (D-TN): …And they need to start listening to teachers, and I can tell you that teachers did not come to them with the legislation. Every major county has already said, “No, since this is permissive, we are not arming teachers.” They’ve already said no. No one asked them for this bill.

VELSHI: Yeah. Somebody — (cross talk) — the question is, no one or is it lobbies that continue to cause these legislators to do things that are completely not in the interests of — don’t have the support of their voters.

(…)

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JONES: What I think this is really about is that the governor is mad that his privatization of public schools bill failed this session, and so this is a way to further undermine education. So I want to connect the dots between this proliferation of guns and their attack on public schools. Because what we’re hearing is that people are afraid to send their kids to schools. So what was the thing they did after the voucher bill died to try and privatize our schools? The coward Ryan Williams — my colleague from Cookeville — said we’re going to push through this bill to arm teachers, and now parents are scared to send their kids —

VELSHI: Yeah, up.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JONES: — to public schools. That’s really what the goal is, I think, Ali. I really —

VELSHI: Yeah.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JONES: — think that’s the purpose of this legislation.

VELSHI: I don’t want my kids going to a place where there’s yet more guns in the school. I’d like zero guns in the schools. Thanks to both of you. It is remarkable what you have both done and your other colleagues have done for democracy and for standing up for it. When they tell me, “You know, there’s not enough younger people getting involved in politics and it’s all — it’s all corporatized,” and all that, I point to you Tennessee Three to remind people that there are a lot of people fighting the battle right out there all the time, and we should be proud of that. Thank you.

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