Do you think it coincidence that Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee suddenly called for gun control measures? Unlikely. The expulsion of two young Black men from the Tennessee legislature put all eyes on Tennessee. While the supermajority Republican group accused the “Tennessee Three” or “breaking decorum,” in a well-written, poignant piece for CNN, Justin Pearson gives us the other side of that proverbial coin. In response to the legislature’s claim of “lack of decorum,” Jones said: “If decorum was breached, it was by the heavy-handed Republican supermajority in the Tennessee House, which denied us the chance to speak during regular order, cut off our microphones, later disabled our voting machines and revoked our access to the building.” Pearson went on to describe how House Speaker Cameron Sexton also attempted to silence them by calling a recess. “We followed the directive of Article 2, Section 26 of the State Constitution to oppose policies injurious to the people who elected us.” There should be no doubt that Jones, Pearson, and Johnson fully represented their constituents.
The expulsion of Pearson and Jones has reverberated literally around the country and likely around the world. It is embarrassing that the rest of the world must witness the level of continued racism in this country. It is not only embarrassing, but also shameful. If, however, it leads to changes in gun laws, there is no doubt that any of the Tennessee Three would willingly vacate their seats for such a change. That is the type of representation we should all have. Those of us who are unfortunate enough to live in red states must deal with being represented by people who represent gun fanatics, lobbyists, and the NRA. They take precedence over all of us. Republicans have become slaves to the mighty dollar, and every one of us is for sale to the highest bidder so to speak. More accurately, we have become victims to what the Republican benefactors want.
According to Pearson, you don’t need a permit to publicly carry firearms in Tennessee, and the legislature wants to lower the age of gun owners from 21 to 18. Instead of attacking the problem from a sensible angle, Tennessee Republicans-like many other Republicans-want to, instead arm teachers. This is not the answer to the ever-growing problem of gun violence. Governor Lee’s answer is to strengthen background checks. While that may help, it’s certainly not the root of the problem. No one should be able to purchase assault weapons-no one. There is no need for them in civilized society. They were built to kill-that’s why military personnel use them-but the rest of us don’t need them for any reasonable purpose. You want to hunt? Buy a shotgun. Protecting your home? Get a handgun. As for the most common problem-Republican supermajorities-stop the gerrymandering. Allow people to be represented by the people of their choice, and if they choose to not be represented by Republicans, so be it. No one should have representation forced on them. This is America, and we need to start acting like it.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years