Hundreds of people of all ages gathered at the Tennessee Capitol on Thursday to call for stronger gun laws in the state, three days after a shooter killed six people at a Christian elementary school, including three nine-year-old children.
Protestors gathered during the first legislative session since the shooting as lawmakers were set to begin considering bills. Videos of the demonstration showed chaos, with some claiming on social media that things turned hectic when police had to make way for lawmakers to walk through the crowds.
In videos posted to social media, people could be heard chanting “What do we want? Gun control!” in the halls of the Nashville building as protestors gathered both in and outside of the capitol. Scores of parents and children wearing orange held signs with phrases like “The lives of my students matter more than your guns” and “Is your AR-15 worth their lives?”
At the same time, Democratic lawmakers “caused a temporary shutdown” as they yelled, “Power to the people” over a megaphone, according to CBS News.
Seth Herald—Getty ImagesProtesters gather inside the Tennessee State Capitol to call for an end to gun violence and support stronger gun laws in Nashville, Tenn. on March 30, 2023.
The protest was spearheaded by Metro Nashville Public Schools Parents, in addition to other community groups like ForwardTN, East Nashtivists, The Equity Alliance and Third Man Records, in response to Monday’s school shooting.
On Monday, a 28-year-old former student of The Covenant School in Nashville entered the school after shooting out glass doors and opened fire. Audrey Hale, who has been identified as the shooter, was later shot and killed by police.
“Prayer is the first thing we should do, but it’s not the only thing,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in a video statement after the shooting, though he did not elaborate. Last year, the governor said he did not support firearm restrictions. “We can’t control what we can’t control,” Lee said after the Uvalde school shooting last year.
Just two days after Monday’s shooting, a federal judge also dropped the minimum age to carry a handgun publicly in the state from 21 to 18.
The Nashville school shooting was the 130th mass shooting thus far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.