NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Monday that he will call for the Tennessee General Assembly to meet for a special legislative session on Aug. 21.
The purpose of the special session is to “strengthen public safety and preserve constitutional rights,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“After speaking with members of the General Assembly, I am calling for a special session on August 21 to continue our important discussion about solutions to keep Tennessee communities safe and preserve the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Lee in a statement. “There is broad agreement that action is needed, and in the weeks ahead, we’ll continue to listen to Tennesseans and pursue thoughtful, practical measures that strengthen the safety of Tennesseans, preserve Second Amendment rights, prioritize due process protections, support law enforcement and address mental health.”
But lawmakers aren’t certain this special session means Tennessee gun laws will change.
“There’s a lot of other chatter with regard to just generic terms such as public safety and preserving constitutional rights, which tends to indicate that my colleagues across the aisle aren’t going to address the root cause of this gun violence epidemic,” said Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D—Nashville).
In response to the governor’s announcement, Tennessee House Republicans tweeted, “Our caucus remains focused on finding solutions that prevent dangerous individuals from harming the public. We are working on impactful legislation that protects Tennesseans & preserves the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Before the date of the session was officially announced, Rep. Jason Zachary (R—Knoxville) said he wants to see a focus on mental health and strengthening current laws.
“Whether it’s guns, knives, cars, whatever it is, there is nothing we can do to address the evil that leads to people taking these acts, but we can address the mental health issue,” Zachary said.
However, Democrats argue while important, mental health issues aren’t the only cause of gun violence.
“Every country across this world has mental health issues among their residents, but only the United States of America has their gun addiction,” Clemmons said.
Clemmons also noted the special session will be happening after many students and teachers are back in class, which would make it harder for them to protest for gun reform when lawmakers come back to Nashville.
However, Tennesseans are invited to take part in the conversation by sharing feedback to lawmakers here.
The governor said he will meet with legislators, stakeholders, and Tennesseans throughout the summer to discuss “practical solutions” ahead of Aug. 21.