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Tennessee Democrats face House expulsion vote after gun control protest

2023-04-06T20:46:39Z

Protesters gathered inside and outside the Tennessee statehouse before the House of Representatives vote on whether to expel three Democratic members for their role in a gun control demonstration at the statehouse last week, in Nashville.

Republicans who control the Tennessee House of Representatives voted on Thursday to expel Justin Jones, the first of three Democratic members for their role in a gun control demonstration at the statehouse last week.

Last Thursday’s protest saw hundreds of demonstrators flood into the statehouse four days after a Nashville school shooting ended with three 9-year-old children and three school staff members dead.

Three Democratic lawmakers stood on the House floor and used a bullhorn to lead protesters in chanting demands for stricter gun laws. Republicans in the resolutions calling for their expulsion accused the three of engaging in “disorderly behavior” and said they “did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions.”

The expulsion vote targeted Representatives Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson. They say that taking part in the protest was within their First Amendment rights – the constitutional right to freedom of speech.

“It’s morally insane that a week after a mass shooting took six lives in our community, House Republicans only response is to expel us for standing with our constituents to call for gun control,” Jones wrote on Twitter this week. “What’s happening in Tennessee is a clear danger to democracy all across this nation.”

Protesters gathered again outside the state house in the rain on Thursday and packed the gallery above the House floor, holding signs in favor of stricter gun control.

Republican Representatives Andrew Farmer, Gino Bulso, and Bud Hulsey filed three resolutions on Monday to expel their Democratic colleagues. The resolutions on Monday passed in a preliminary vote along party lines, 72-23.

Only two Tennessee state representatives have been expelled by their colleagues since the Civil War era: one in 1980 for soliciting a bribe in exchange for blocking legislation and another in 2016 after being accused of sexual misconduct by numerous women. Both expulsions were made with overwhelming, bipartisan votes.

The Democratic Party in Tennessee is raising funds to support Johnson, Jones and Pearson in special elections that will take place after the expulsions.

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Protesters gather in the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Wurm

Rep. Justin Pearson gestures while entering the statehouse, as Republicans who control the Tennessee House of Representatives prepare to vote on whether to expel three Democratic members for their role in a gun control demonstration at the statehouse last week, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Protesters gather as Republicans who control the Tennessee House of Representatives prepare to vote on whether to expel three Democratic members for their role in a gun control demonstration at the statehouse last week, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Protesters gather as Republicans who control the Tennessee House of Representatives prepare to vote on whether to expel three Democratic members for their role in a gun control demonstration at the statehouse last week, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Protesters gather as Republicans who control the Tennessee House of Representatives prepare to vote on whether to expel three Democratic members for their role in a gun control demonstration at the statehouse last week, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Tennessee State Representative Justin Pearson, Gloria Johnson and Justin Jones hold hands as they walk in the State House in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer

Rep. Justin Pearson, Rep. Justin Jones, Rep. Gloria Johnson People hold their hands up as they exit the House Chamber doors at the Tennessee State Capitol Building, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. April 3, 2023. Nicole Hester/USA Today Network via REUTERS.

Law enforcement officers guard the entrance to the house in anticipation of protests, as Republicans who control the Tennessee House of Representatives prepare to vote on whether to expel three Democratic members for their role in a gun control demonstration at the statehouse last week, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Tennessee State Representative Justin Jones, standing with Rep. Justin Pearson and Rep. Gloria Johnson, calls on his colleagues to pass gun control legislation from the well of the House Chambers during the legislative session, three days after the mass shooting at The Covenant School, at the State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. March 30, 2023. George Walker IV/USA Today Network via REUTERS

Protesters gather outside the Tennessee State Capitol to call for an end to gun violence and support stronger gun laws after a deadly shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. March 30, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr//File Photo


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