NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It was a tense day at the Tennessee State Capitol as protesters filled with grief from Monday’s mass shooting at The Covenant School confronted lawmakers over gun violence.
A grassroots rally on Thursday morning drew thousands of people passionately pleading for gun control.
“People are heartbroken and angry, and the sense of powerlessness is really, really strong because our legislatures generally try to ignore this stuff, so we wanted to get in their faces today,” said Maryam Abolfazli, a volunteer with Awake TN.
Hundreds made their voices heard Thursday, from outside in the streets to inside the building.
“We shouldn’t have to come here to ask you to do what’s right to do your job,” Shaundealle Brooks said.
It’s a trip Brooks is tired of making sense losing her son in a 2014 mass shooting at Waffle House when Travis Reinking walked into the restaurant with an AR-15 style rifle.
“I hope it don’t hit their front door, you know? I hope they don’t lose their children to gun violence. I hope they don’t have to feel the pain that I’ve felt and continue to feel that hole inside. You know, I hope they don’t have to feel that. Maybe until they do they will stop and think about what they are doing and make some changes,” Brooks explained.
It’s been nearly five years, however, and here she is again.
“I’m tired of thoughts and prayers,” she sighed. “We want action.”
This week, six people, including three children, were killed in a mass shooting at The Covenant School in Green Hills. Investigators said shooter Audrey Hale had reportedly been under doctor’s care for an “emotional disorder”.
According to Metro police, Hale legally purchased seven firearms from multiple gun stores in the area. Hale was armed with two assault-style rifles and a handgun during the shooting.
“Gun control, gun control. There’s a million ways you can limit who gets them and how they are used,” Abolfazli explained.
The large crowd inside the Capitol could be heard chanting, “Ban assault rifles.”
Outside the chamber doors, tense moments followed the rally. The outcry turned chaotic at times, especially as lawmakers came out of the chambers.
Capitol security had to clear a path for lawmakers, pushing through the crowd of protesters who demanded to be heard.
The crowd also consisted of students who walked out of school, tired of living in fear.
“They feel like they aren’t safe anywhere they go; not school, not work, not anywhere, and that’s not what it should be like in America,” Aldane Brooks said.
Among the calls for gun reform, protesters asked for red flag laws and background checks.