The last two weeks have been wrought with public outcries of gun reform, as backlash from the community in Nashville, Tennessee, after six individuals were killed last Monday, March 27th, three of which were 9-year-old children. Protests have continued throughout the week, as students, parents, teachers, and constituents and gun-safety advocates flooded the Capitol, demanding safety and protection from our elected officials.
Last Monday, April 3rd, Tennessee house Speaker Cameron Sexton stripped two Democratic lawmakers, Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Gloria Johnson, of their committee assignments in order to discipline them for taking action at the capitol and protesting and advocating for gun safety. Sexton let it be known that he was considering expelling representative’s Jones and Johnson, as well as Rep. Justin Pearson for taking part in the peaceful protest. This comes as a shock, as the last time the House expelled a member was in 2016 when Jeremy Durham was removed, almost unanimously, for for sexual misconduct, only the second expulsion since the Civil War. A final vote on the expulsion of the members will be held on Thursday, after the resolution passed in a 72-23 vote.
The ability to expel representatives on the other side of the aisle for disagreements in how to serve their community would set a chilling precedent for the future of our democracy. However, the continued zeal of students and other protesters is making it difficult for lawmakers to ignore their plea, making it obvious that the public will no longer take “thought and prayers” without definitive and effective action.