NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After ten people were gunned down at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and 21 people at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas a Metro Nashville City Councilwoman says it’s time to take action.
Courtney Johnston represents District 26, the Crieve Hall area of South Nashville. Over the weekend she penned an open letter to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee asking him to call a special session on the areas of gun rights and responsibilities, mental health, and school security.
“You sit there and you wonder how many times do we have to go through this,” Johnston questioned. “It’s just this constant cycle and nothing is really changing.”
She drafted the letter Sunday, which started out by saying “it’s time to stop the cycle of apathy, to outrage, and back to apathy again. Our thoughts and prayers are no longer enough.”
She continued, “I’m not questioning your second amendment right. I own a gun for personal safety. But I was alarmed when I went to purchase that gun a long time ago, when I was single, and there was nothing required except for a background check.”
Johnston also pointed out that in Metro Nashville dozens of guns are stolen out of cars weekly. The Metro Nashville Police Department reports there have already been at least 650 firearms stolen from vehicles this year.
“That’s not responsible gun ownership,” Johnston said.
Johnston argues that lawmakers not only need to discuss gun rights and responsibilities, but they also need to discuss mental health resources.
“The triggers don’t pull themselves. We have broken people in our community,” Johnston said.
Last week, Governor Lee signed an executive order focused on strengthening school safety by adding things like mental health resources and school resource officers to schools, but it didn’t mention anything about firearms. He said his administration has no plans to discuss gun laws.
Meanwhile, in Washington D.C. a group of bi-partisan Senators passed a plan over the weekend that includes strengthening background checks, increasing funding for red flag laws and mental health programs, and expanding gun restrictions for those convicted of domestic violence.
Johnston is hopeful that kind of leadership may trickle down to the state level.
“It’s a public safety issue. Politics obviously have to be involved, but I think, even from Republicans I’ve talked to, it’s time,” Johnston said.