Tennessee Three lobby Democrats, Republicans on Capitol Hill

Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 8:44 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A week that began at the White House for the “Tennessee Three” continued on Capitol Hill Wednesday. The Democrats punished for protesting at the Tennessee State House and calling for gun control following the Covenant School shooting that left three children and three adults dead are using their newfound spotlight to push the divisive conversation forward. In a divided Congress, passing big reforms the lawmakers seek could be as difficult as it is back in Tennessee where Republicans hold a supermajority.

State Rep. Justin Jones (D-Tenn.) joined other young lawmakers Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.), Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), and more outside the House of Representatives Wednesday pitching what they hope would be a safer future.

“I’m hopeful looking around right here. I’m hopeful seeing a multiracial coalition of young people here. That’s where my hope is,” said Jones.

Jones was expelled from the Tennessee State House then reinstated shortly thereafter. He is now using his platform to lobby Congress.

“It’s not an issue of left or right, but it is a moral issue of right or wrong. And so movement and people power, sustained direct nonviolent action, that’s what’s going to change this nation,” said Jones.

Jones said he met with Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, but would not share specifics of the conversations.

With Republicans in control of the House, the reality of gun reform, like banning assault weapons or red flag laws, is tenuous. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) argues more regulation will not stop tragedies like the one that took place in Nashville.

“The last two shootings, red flags wouldn’t have stopped them. The girl in Tennessee lived in her own home,” said Burchett.

Philosophical differences on how to address shootings continue to grow. Burchett is pointing the finger at Democrats, arguing they blocked bills that would have put more police officers in schools. The thinking from Burchett is not to control guns, but to make schools harder targets.

“That could make some changes,” said Burchett.

Governor Bill Lee (R-Tenn.) says a special session will be called to bring the state assembly back to take up potential gun measures. It is unclear whether lawmakers in Washington will take up any gun reform legislation during this Congress.