A bus touring across Tennessee on behalf of the organization Our Kids Deserve Better arrived in Dickson on Thursday, August 10. It was accompanied by state leaders, all for the purpose of fostering a change in Tennessee gun laws in the upcoming special session of the General Assembly.
The statewide tour began Aug. 9 in Memphis and is scheduled to conclude Aug. 21 in Nashville, when the legislature’s special session will begin.
When that bus rolled into Dickson, State Reps. John Ray Clemmons, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Charlane Oliver of Nashville’s 19th District and Bo Mitchell, a Dickson County native who represents of Nashville’s 50th District, all spoke to gathered residents.
Rep. Clemmons began by thanking all there for attending. He then expressed, that this statewide tour was being done “because we believe all our kids deserve better.” He added, “Protecting children should be our top priority.”
Clemmons then encouraged people to “get on the bus, for common-sense gun solutions.” He said it was not a partisan issue when it comes to “protecting children and our schools,” and it’s something “we all should work on.” Clemmons said he felt that people elect their representatives to find needed solutions.
He went on to say, that no parent or grandparent should have to worry about their child’s safety. For that concern, he said “they fully expect legislators to… press gun safety solutions.” Clemmons then referred to his fellow statesmen and Gov. Bill Lee, saying, “We need to work together and do our jobs,” concerning this issue.
Rep. Oliver said, she was there to support the citizens who “showed up,” especially, considering the Covenant School shooting in Nashville back in March. She went on to say, “We should be listening to the people” and to family members who have lost loved ones.
Then referring to other acts of violence, Oliver said, “These incidents do not have to happen; we can do something about it.” She also expressed having “the will to stiff-arm” organizations such as the NRA to enact policies that she said have been proven to work in other states for saving lives. She said, “What the governor has proposed will not do that.”
Rep. Mitchell also spoke and expressed it to be “great to be back in Dickson County.” He then referred to his own upbringing here, as weapons were used in those times to protect one’s home or for hunting. But he added, “We didn’t have any assault rifles.”
Mitchell said the solution is simple, because most mass shootings occur with assault rifles used by those averaging 19 years of age. He said, we can simply “raise the age to buy weapons to 21, and we ban assault weapons.” He even emphasized the use of background checks, which he said any law-abiding citizen should have no problem with.
Concerning guns for hunting or home protection, he said “no one wants” to take those away. But he said after the December 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, that state banned of assault rifles and increase background checks. As a result, Mitchell claimed Connecticut’s “murder rate went down 79 percent.”
He then said, “We know what works, and we just need to do it. We’re taking this bus to every corner of the state, to do our jobs for the children of this state.”
Clemmons said concerning the issue, “We’re out here talking to people in their communities” about the problem, and that’s what matters.
Resident Stacey Levine spoke, pointing out that former Governor Frank Clement was born in Dickson and once said that politicians’ priorities “should focus on the next generation, and not their election. Then they would not have to worry about the next election.”
She then challenged all lawmakers, saying “as they go into the next session,” they should think about the next generation, which Levine said includes her own three children, and “all of our children across the state.”