Nashville gun control rally held following Dayton, El Paso mass shootings

End gun violence rally.JPG
Posted at 9:53 PM, Aug 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-05 23:18:23-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Safe Tennessee Project, Representative John Ray Clemmons and local activists held a gun control rally in Nashville in response to two mass shootings over the weekend.

Several people were killed in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Activists called it a vigil and rally to end gun violence - an effort to bring attention to gun control advocacy.

Representative John Ray Clemmons says it's time the state and the nation treat mass shootings not just like a public safety issue but also a public health crisis. He says the hate and divisiveness and groups that spread those kinds of messages are growing and so is the violence they bring.

"We need to change the dialogue and we need to put more pressure on elected leaders not to further that debate but to lead by example and end the type discrimination and hate that we’re seeing in our communities," said Clemmons.

Clemmons introduced a resolution he says two years ago to denounced Neo-Nazis and white Nationalists in Tennessee, but the resolution never got called for a vote.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2018 there were 36 hate groups tracked in Tennessee. CBS news reported back in May that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has 5,000 open U.S. terrorism cases.

About 850 are current domestic terrorism cases, when you break those numbers down 50% are anti-government extremist and 40% are racially and a majority of those cases involve white supremacists.

Clemmons said he wanted this to be more than just a rally, he wanted it to be a called to action. He said quote "Thoughts and prayers aren’t doing the job."

People who showed up said they agree.

"Even though mass shootings represent such a small percentage of American gun violence there’s still a huge problem. No one should be fearful going to the store or no one should be fearful leaving their house every day, it’s just ridicules," said Isabelle Reish with Students Demand Action.

Republican lawmakers weighed in on the topic as well.

Governor, lawmakers respond to weekend mass shootings

Senator Marsha Blackburn sent a statement that reads, "

“The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton were horrific tragedies perpetrated by evil individuals, and I condemn all forms of hate and hateful acts of any kind. The actions of law enforcement officers and first responders in stopping both shooters saved lives and allowed the wounded to get immediate care. We will work with the President to continue addressing this issue in a comprehensive manner by giving law enforcement the tools they need to reduce gun violence, while also respecting the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens. The issue of mental health will also require further examination. We should look into how to expand providing proper treatment and facilities for the severely mentally ill. Last year, Congress passed the Fix NICS Act, which banned the use of bump stocks and strengthened reporting requirements for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and the Department of Justice. There is much more work to be done. My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to the victims and those injured.”

Senator Lamar Alexander also sent a statement.

"Our nation cannot ignore these mass shootings. That is why last year I helped pass a new law to eliminate loopholes in the background check system for gun purchasers. Two years ago, I helped rewrite federal mental health laws to improve the quality and coordination of mental health care, focusing on early intervention. New laws I co-sponsored gave schools more funds to stop school violence and to meet the needs of students with mental health disorders. I am ready to do more, especially on background checks, to identify those who shouldn’t have guns. Today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell asked that the health and education committee I chair take an immediate look to find additional bipartisan ways to fund states’ efforts to increase school safety and to help Americans with serious mental health problems. But, especially in a nation with a constitutional right to bear arms, new laws from Washington, D.C., alone won’t stop this violence – it will take a change in behavior. Every day our internet democracy displays millions of hateful thoughts. To change behavior, each of us has a responsibility to replace these hateful thoughts with statements that respect the dignity of every individual, regardless of their background.”