Taking a Stand

Yesterday the Republican led Tennessee State Legislature expelled two Democrat members. They took a vote on the expulsion of three members but expelled only two. All three had taken part in supporting a protest by thousands of Tennessee students asking for stronger gun control regulation in the state. The legislature said the three had violated “decorum” in the House chambers. This protest was sparked by the gun murder of three nine-year-old children and three school employees on March 3, 2023, in Nashville.

The three Democrats are Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson. Jones and Pearson are African American, and Pearson is Caucasian. The Republican led body did not distinguish the behavior of Pearson from that of the two men, yet she was not expelled, and they were.

This morning I was having a conversation with a friend about this event and our feelings about gun regulation. He said he read the expulsion was because the three had voted against a law that would add armed security in schools. When asked where he’s seen that, he said “Breitbart.” I admit I did laugh when he mentioned his source. I responded that every newscast I’d watched was reporting the same thing. They were expelled because of breaking the rule of decorum when speaking out about gun control without permission to speak.

I asked my friend what he thought about the expulsion of the two African American men, and failing to expel the Caucasian female, who had committed the same act as the two men. His response was, “I’m tired of hearing about racism in everything.” When pressed on the point, or his reaction to the issue, his answer was “I don’t know all the facts.” I don’t either, but I’ve not heard one Tennessee legislator explain why he or she voted to oust the two black men, but not the white female.

When the subject was shifted to guns, the usual words were spoken by both of us. Its mental illness, and the 2nd Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, and I saying why can’t we do more to prevent gun violence?

The full Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It was ratified on Dec. 17, 1791. It is part of the Bill of Rights, the name of the first ten amendments added to the United States Constitution. 

I said to my friend that there are about 350,000,000 privately owned guns in the U S. It is often offered that “they want to take away all guns.” Who, I asked, has the power, or has ever said they can or will take away three hundred fifty million guns? His response, Pete Buttigieg said, “We are coming for your guns.” I guess there is an actual threat, one man, and millions of gun owners. I don’t think I’d bet on Pete winning this one.

Our forefathers included this passage into the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. I take the position that those three children, and those three school employees, had the Right to live, and the Right to pursue happiness in their lives.

Both sides of the argument have valid points, but I do not think that gives anyone a free pass to throw up our arms, say we send out our thoughts and prayers to the victims and families of gun violence, and then forget about it until the next mass shooting occurs tomorrow.

In the Tennessee state capital, those thousands of students were pleading for protection in their schools, and the action taken was to expel two men that were supporting their cause.

So what position do we take? Do we turn our backs on the matter, say it’s the problem of someone else? Do we agree power makes right, and that the answer is only to gain and do everything possible to maintain political control? Or to not take any position on such a vital matter because we don’t have all the facts, and that it is a complicated issue. I ask one last question. Is there no possibility for us to come to some agreement that we as a country have the responsibility to do everything possible to stop gun carnage while protecting the right of people to own guns? Are our thoughts and prayers the only thing available, or acceptable to us to stop nine-year-old children from being murdered?

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