Lawmakers from both Republican and Democratic branches of state government made differing statements at press conferences Thursday, a day after a tragic school shooting in Florida.
Despite stating it was too early to talk about the tragedy, republican lawmakers did say more gun control is not the answer to protect Tennessee students. In a press conference with State House Speaker Beth Harwell, Republican Leader Glen Casada and Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams, the republican leadership said there will be a time in the near future when the debate about how to stop school shootings needs to happen.
"I think what we have in this country is not a gun problem, it's a heart problem," said representative Glen Casada. "We have had automatic weapons for well over 100 years, why all of the sudden is there the gun violence?"
On the other side, many state house and senate democrats said they've been trying to pass gun legislation for years in the state, but have been voted down by the republican super majority.
"It is time that we stop accepting mass shootings as a condition of American life," said representative Mike Stewart.
Democrats said it's a good time to talk about mass shootings in the country because of the frequency the shootings are happening.
"There is not a prayer or moment of silence you could say to me if I lost my daughter in a mass shooting at her school," said Rep. Antonio Parkinson. "I wouldn't give a damn about your prayers and moments of silence when I know you have the ability to protect us but you chose not to."
There are more than a dozen gun bills in the state legislature in 2018. One of the bills the democrats support is a reclassification of the Bump Stock gun accessory, classifying it in the same category as many automatic weapons.