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Nashville Covenant School parents push for new gun laws

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(The Center Square) – Families from Nashville’s Covenant School have begun a pair of nonprofits and are pushing Tennessee for gun prevention laws such as expanded background checks, secure storage and red flag laws heading into August’s expected special session of the Tennessee Legislature.

A shooter killed three students and three employees at Covenant School earlier this year. Family members from the school started Covenant Families for a Brighter Tomorrow and the legislative advocacy nonprofit Covenant Families Action Fund.

“Gun owners even support background checks, safe storage, temporarily limiting access to firearms for folks who are a threat to themselves and others until they can get help,” said David Teague, a co-founder of the groups. “These are not controversial items. It’s the fact that they’re not on the books already is what’s controversial, while another Tennessee family loses a loved one every five and a half hours to gun violence.”

Gov. Bill Lee plans to call a special session on public safety beginning on Aug. 21 and has heard opposition to his proposal for a red flag law, which he called a temporary mental health order of protection.

The Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition, which recently met with Lee, spoke with Lee about the group’s opposition to the proposal. Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, and Tennessee House Republicans have spoken out against red flag laws as well.

The Covenant families said they have had dozens of meetings with Tennessee legislators and will continue to take the meetings to advocate for new laws.

“We are advocating for gun violence prevention solutions such as expanded background checks, secure storage and order of protection laws – a life-saving measure that could have prevented the tragedy at the Covenant School,” said Covenant parent Melissa Alexander. “As a native Tennessean and gun owner I think it’s important to emphasize responsible gun ownership, however, I also think it’s important to intervene when there are clear signs that something is wrong.”

Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, held a press conference on gun laws in the Cordell Hull Office Building near the Tennessee Capitol on Friday morning, joined by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Metro Nashville Deputy Mayor Brenda Haywood.

“My colleagues chose to end the legislative session early but we will not allow justice to be denied any longer,” Jones said in a statement. “Rather than excuses we must act in the face of special interest-funded opposition, and on August 21st we urge the legislature to enact a policy that Tennesseans are demanding: Protect Kids Not Guns.”

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