Tennessee House expels two Democrats in unprecedented move

Nashville, Tennessee - The Tennessee House of Representatives voted Thursday to expel Democratic state Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who led a Friday protest for tighter gun control measures after last week's Nashville school shooting.

The Tennessee House of Representatives expelled Democratic state Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson (c.), who led a protest for tighter gun control measures.
The Tennessee House of Representatives expelled Democratic state Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson (c.), who led a protest for tighter gun control measures.  © REUTERS

"It's morally insane that a week after a mass shooting took six lives in our community, House Republicans' only response is to expel us for standing with our constituents to call for gun control," Jones tweeted Tuesday, adding that the vote to oust elected officials is "a clear danger to democracy all across this nation."

After his expulsion, Jones told supporters "this isn't about me" and vowed to continue advocating for gun safety measures.

The vote on the third Democratic lawmaker, Representative Gloria Johnson, fell just short of the two-thirds majority necessary to remove an elected House official.

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Jones and Pearson are both Black, while Johnson is white.

Tennessee Republicans attempt to justify unprecedented move

Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones vowed to continue advocating for gun safety measures.
Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones vowed to continue advocating for gun safety measures.  © REUTERS

Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton said the three Democrats in question, including Jones – who shouted through a bullhorn during the demonstration – violated "several rules of decorum and procedure on the House floor" during their demonstration. Republicans control the House in Tennessee.

Democrats believe legislators should be proactive in taking measures to keep guns out of the hands of school shooters, like the killer who was responsible for the death of three nine-year-old students and three adults at The Covenant School in Nashville on March 27.

Tennessee Representative Tim Burchett, a Republican, added to the frustration last week by saying gun control measures aren't on the negotiating table as far as he's concerned.

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"We're not gonna fix it," Burchett told reporters the day after the massacre. "Criminals are gonna be criminals."

Demonstrators gathered in Nashville on Thursday to support Johnson, Pearson and Jones.

Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS

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