It only took a week for the pair of protesting lawmakers in the Tennessee House to be back in their seats after they were dumped by Republicans. Democratic Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones were booted for leading a raucous and disruptive demonstration on the House floor.
Both were reappointed by their respective county commissions, and Pearson had choice words against state GOP leaders when he addressed his supporters.
Specifically, he took dead aim at Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton.
According to the reinstated lawmaker, his mother told him that “what the devil meant for bad, God meant for good.” He claimed that God was behind this “movement” to stop gun violence, the basis for the House demonstration.
He added that “what Cameron Sexton meant for bad, God has turned into good.” Pearson’s comparison is crystal clear.
The representative made his proclamation before a gathering of about 50 supporters and the national media. He further told the assembly that “you can’t expel hope. You can’t expel our voice. You can’t expel our fight.”
Former representative Justin Pearson was once again sworn in to represent House District 86 on Thursday after being reinstated by commissioners in Memphis on Wednesday. https://t.co/qChOBKdMBa
— FoxNashville (@FOXNashville) April 13, 2023
The Nashville debate roiled the legislature after the tragic killing of six at a Christian elementary school by a transgender shooter. Now, Republican Gov. Bill Lee asked the state government to take up a new “order of protection” measure, or “red flag” law.
These are designed to enable authorities to prevent access to guns by those deemed a danger to themselves or others. The gun industry generally supports these statutes as long as constitutional due process is embedded in them.
The governor said the action won’t solve all of the state’s problems but it’s a step forward.
There will be many, including those within his own party, who disagree. One, state Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R), admonished legislators to be cautious. “It is a constitutional right whether you agree or disagree with it.”
He added, “the right to bear arms is a fundamental constitutional right, and I support that wholeheartedly.”
Passing new gun control legislation in Tennessee truly must be a bipartisan effort. If 100% of Democrats support such a move, which is quite likely, there would still have to be about 25% of House Republicans on board along with 30% of GOP members of the Senate for it to reach the governor.