Rep. Cohen, Mid-South moms demand federal action on gun violence

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Moms Demand Action, the national nonprofit working to end gun violence, and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) joined forces Thursday calling on United States senators to do something about gun reform.

They’re calling it common sense policies, saying the U.S. House of Representatives has taken steps, and now it’s time for Senators to as well.

Standing on a windy Civic Center Plaza in downtown, members of Moms Demand Action made their case.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis,” said the group’s organizer.

The group said it’s time for U.S. Senators to do something about gun policies, not only after the tragedies like mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, or Dayton, Ohio, happening within 24 hours of each other, but also the shootings we sadly tell you about nightly on the news happening in our neighborhoods.

“Just for a second, if you could close your eyes and imagine being stampeded by a herd of elephants,”  Stacie Payne, who lost her son to gun violence, said. “This is what my heart feels like without Cameron.”

For nearly the last four years, we’ve followed Payne’s story. She lost her son Cameron when he was just 19 years old.

On Thursday, Moms Demand Action urged Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn to do something regarding what they call reasonable and responsible laws.

They said background checks should be required on all gun sales and are also pushing for a strong red flag law, where law enforcement can ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to guns if the evidence shows the person poses a threat to themselves or others.

“It’s important that we keep the pressure on the Senate to get them to schedule these bills, to give the voice of the American people, put it into action and legislation and to save lives,” Rep. Cohen said. “It can only happen if you make your voice heard.”

“Let’s get this together, not just when there is a mass shooting, but when there are shootings in our community daily,” Payne said.

We reached out to Sen. Alexander’s and Sen. Blackburn’s team for a comment.

Alexander sent us a message on Friday:

“Our nation cannot ignore these mass shootings. That is why last year I helped pass a new law to eliminate loopholes in the background check system for gun purchasers. Two years ago, I helped rewrite federal mental health laws to improve the quality and coordination of mental health care, focusing on early intervention. New laws I co-sponsored gave schools more funds to stop school violence and to meet the needs of students with mental health disorders. I am ready to do more, especially on background checks, to identify those who shouldn’t have guns. Today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell asked that the health and education committee I chair take an immediate look to find additional bipartisan ways to fund states’ efforts to increase school safety and to help Americans with serious mental health problems. But, especially in a nation with a constitutional right to bear arms, new laws from Washington, D.C., alone won’t stop this violence – it will take a change in behavior. Every day our internet democracy displays millions of hateful thoughts. To change behavior, each of us has a responsibility to replace these hateful thoughts with statements that respect the dignity of every individual, regardless of their background.”

Senator Marsha Blackburn’s team send us this statement Friday morning: “No one wants a person who is a danger to themselves or others to have a gun or any weapon. That is why we have to examine policies to address gun violence and mental illness, while upholding the Second Amendment.” – Senator Marsha Blackburn.

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