'How do we not feel shame?' Tennessee Democrat hammers Republicans over inaction on guns
Gunshow via flickr user mglasgow

Tennessee State Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-21st District) delivered an impassioned last-minute plea appeal to GOP lawmakers on Thursday to recall and hold a vote on a bill that he authored "to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others," which mirrored a proposal by Governor Bill Lee (R) that would permit "law enforcement to confiscate firearms from individuals found by a judge to be a risk of harm to themselves or others," The Tennesseanreported.

Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Tennessee Legislature, and they have been abundantly clear in the weeks since the March 27th Covenant School mass shooting that they harbor no will to prevent gun violence.

During the debate, Yarbro, who represents Nashville, implored his colleagues to consider the ramifications of inaction:

This right now is likely our last chance. There have been three mass shootings in the city of Nashville in the last six years, In the Waffle House shooting, the perpetrator there had actually had their weapons confiscated from them in another state. But it was one hundred percent legal for that person to own weapons in Tennessee. How do we not feel shame for failing to do anything? I don't wanna hug another mom knowing that we could have done more. They say it's unconstitutional, which is just garbage. There are twenty states that have enacted laws just like this. This is not some radical concept. This is something that's supported by seventy percent of the voters of Tennessee. There has to be a court involved, law enforcement involved, clear and convincing evidence, rights to appeal. We let process less significant than this take someone's children from them. We are the only thirty-three people in the entire state who can take action right now. Shouldn't we? This is a moment when we need to do the right thing as a body. Answer the calls of these parents. I don't think any of us want to wake up after the next one of these feeling like we haven't done everything we can.

Republican State Senators Bo Watson (11th District) and Todd Gardenhire (10th District) refused to weigh the matter.

"There has never been an incident where this body has recalled a piece of legislation from a standing committee," Watson said. "I moved to table the motion," Gardenhire added.

But Yarbro pushed back:

We should not be finding procedural excuses not to do the right thing, Mister Speaker. I'm asking you not to give up. There's nothing that requires us to get out of town tomorrow. These parents are powerless to change the laws. The children who went into the Covenant School that Monday morning, they were powerless to prevent what happened to them. We are not without power. The people of Tennessee have given us the power to do the right thing. The only question is whether we will. I would urge members to vote no.

Every State Senate Republican in attendance except for Art Swann of the 2nd District voted in favor of killing Yarbro's proposal.