NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton rebuked the idea of calling a special session to discuss issues on gun reform in light of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas.
Rep. John Ray Clemmons called on legislative leaders early Wednesday for the session in light of 19 children and two adults dying at the hands of an 18-year-old shooter. This year in the House, leaders passed a measure that would lower the concealed carry permit age to 18. The effort stalled in the Senate.
"I don’t understand the request to call for a special session due to the tragic event in Texas when the active shooter was 18, and Tennessee’s law for permitless carry legislation is for individuals over the age of 21," Sexton said. "During incidents like these, some will immediately blame the gun. I think we need to better understand our youth and students. We all know teen suicide rates are increasing. What is causing that? Why did this individual believe this action was appropriate? Were any signs missed?"
Sexton and other Republicans have expressed interest in increasing funding for Student Resource Officers (SROs).
"I am in favor of enhancing and extending funding to continue having SROs at every school to strengthen security measures at the facility, providing active training to our educators on how to prevent, mitigate, and respond to a violent, critical incident, and by adding more wrap-around mental health services for students — like additional social workers and psychologists so students can have intervention before a crisis arises," Sexton said.
Gov. Bill Lee and other national leaders — including Sen. Bill Hagerty, Rep. Mark Green, Rep. John Rose — have said they aren't going to the National Rifle Association meeting slated for Friday in Houston. NRA organizers said they would still have the convention despite the shooting in Uvalde. Organizers will not permit guns at the convention during former President Donald Trump's remarks.
Because the NRA is considered a political event — not legislative business — Sexton said members can't be reimbursed by the state for travel to Houston. It's not clear how many members of the Tennessee General Assembly will attend.
Kyle Horan contributed to this report.