Tensions flare as the end of special legislative session on public safety looms

Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 10:55 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2023 at 10:56 PM CDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - Tensions rise on this third day of the special session on public safety at our state capitol in Nashville. Bills passed or flat-out ignored, do not sit well with some visitors and legislators.

The special session on public safety looks like it may come to an end by Thursday.

As expected, it looks like nothing on gun reform legislation will pass.

As the special legislative session began to wind down, legislators met with unsatisfied constituents.

”All we can do is tell our stories and tell them exactly as they happened,” said Covenant School parent Melissa Alexander. “And it still felt like we weren’t listened to. As a Covenant Mom, I think this is a really sad day for our state.”

Melissa Alexander and other parents from the Covenant School came to speak in opposition of a House bill that allows retired, on or off-duty police, retired or active military, and anyone with an enhanced handgun permit to use guns on school grounds without notification to K-12 schools or districts.

”I am begging you,” said Covenant School parent Becky Hansen. “On behalf of my children who are forever traumatized and will forever have to deal with the trauma of being hunted at school please pass no on this bill.”

The bill passed the Civil Justice Committee 13-4, along party lines But failed 9-9 in the Education Administration Committee.

Memphis Representative Torrey Harris says Wednesday was disturbing.

”It’s really hurtful to see people come up here with so much compassion and really want to see change and we’re not doing anything as the state of Tennessee,” said Representative Torrey Harris (D - Memphis). “We represent all these individuals.”

The Senate tabled at least 40 bills on school safety, guns, and mental health on Wednesday.

Four bills made it to the Senate floor: One asking the TBI to create a human trafficking report, another asks the TBI to update its criminal database every 72 hours instead of every 30 days, another gives out free gun locks statewide, and the last bill pays for the special session.

”Although it looks like it didn’t pass right now, it really will be short-lived, and we ultimately come together and figure out what bills we should pass to come and protect the public,” said Representative Brent Taylor (R - Memphis)

State Senator Brent Taylor of Memphis says the Senate has a different plan than the House for expectations this session, even after House Republicans called out GOP senators on social media saying “It must be exhausting sending so many bills to Gen Sub, instead of doing the work people sent us here to do.”

Tabled bills could reappear at any time.

Both the House and Senate will have floor sessions tomorrow, where they could adjourn from the special session.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.