Republican lawmakers in Tennessee shield gun companies after school shooting

In the wake of a deadly school shooting last month, Republican lawmakers in Tennessee awarded final passage Tuesday to a proposal that would further protect gun and ammunition dealers, manufacturers and sellers against lawsuits.

NASHVILLE (Tenn.) — Following a deadly shooting at a Tennessee school last month, Republican legislators in Tennessee gave final approval to a plan that would protect gun and ammo dealers, manufacturers, and sellers from lawsuits.

Bill Lee, despite pushback from Democratic lawmakers who claim that their GOP counterparts are trying to shield gun companies just weeks after the a data-commerce-encoding=”” data-seller ID=”undefined”>Nashville school shooting which killed six people including three 9 year olds/a>. Bill Lee, despite opposition from Democratic legislators who claim that their GOP counterparts try to shield gun manufacturers just weeks after the Nashville shooting which killed six people including three 9-year olds.

Lee’s administration still tried to rally enough support from his lawmakers to pass legislation that would keep firearms out of the hands of people who might harm themselves or others. This kind of measure is still uncertain.

The rush to complete a legislative session this week is a result of the national attention that has been focused on the expulsion and subsequent reinstatement of two young Black legislators who were kicked out for a gun control protest in a House chamber. Since weeks, students, parents and other groups have been putting pressure on lawmakers to pass gun safety legislation.

London Lamar (a Memphis-based Democrat senator) said that it was “disrespectful” to pass protections for gun manufacturers while protesters continue to march for gun control at the Capitol. The civil liability bill passed right before a protest where people formed a chain of human beings from Nashville to the Capitol, in support of gun-control measures.

Lamar said, “I challenge you to not pass this bill. We need to do more for citizens to be protected from gun violence that the people who make the guns people can use to murder more people.”

The demonstration took place in the late afternoon, along a route of three miles from Vanderbilt University’s Children’s Hospital, where the victims of the shooting at the school were brought, to the State Capitol. Some people held their arms outstretched, others had their hands clasped and some were linked arm-in-arm. The protest stretched from the sidewalks around campus to a plaza near the Capitol, where many people held signs that read “I am a Voice for Gun Safety.”


Demonstrators hold hands to form a “human chain” to support gun control legislation Tuesday in Nashville.


George Walker IV / AP

Senator Joey Hensley, from Hohenwald said that his legislation does not prevent other proposals from being passed. The bill was passed by the House before the shooting that occurred at The Covenant School on March 27.

Hensley explained: “This is to help businesses that have decided to move to this state, by giving them some civil liability.”

Tennessee’s bill outlines a half dozen situations where gun and ammunition companies can be held civilly responsible in Tennessee state court, while exempting other cases.

Three Republicans, including Sen. Art Swann from Maryville, voted against it. He said that “gun makers have created the current environment.”

Swann stated that “they’re responsible for it and we need them to be held accountable.”

Federal law shields the firearm industry from most liability. According to Everytown for Gun Safety (a gun control advocacy organization), 17 states don’t have immunity for the firearm industry. Tennessee is also not included.

The families of the victims were awarded $73 million by Remington, which made the rifle that was used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut in 2012. The families accused Remington of using advertising to target younger males at risk and placing products in violent video games.

In February, the families of those who were killed or injured in a Texas high school shooting in 2018 settled a lawsuit that they had filed against an online retailer in Tennessee, Lucky Gunner. The retailer was accused of selling illegal ammunition to a student, whom authorities claim fatally shot ten people. Jordan Mollenhour is the owner of the business and sits on Tennessee State Board of Education. The company has been accused of not verifying Dimitrios Pagourtzis’ age — at 17 at the time, he purchased more than 100 ammunition rounds on two separate occasions prior to the Santa Fe High School shooting in May 2018.

Jeff Yarbro, a senator from Nashville, said: “There are some people we should go out of our way to protect in this week.” “We’ve received emails and phone calls. People are holding signs telling us to go the extra mile to help these people. “Not one of these signs says that we should protect gun manufacturers.”

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