Tennessee Dems Face Expulsion for Gun Reform Chants

Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, Justin Pearson accused of 'disorderly behavior'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2023 9:09 AM CDT
Tennessee Dems Face Expulsion for Gun Reform Chants
Tennessee State Representative Justin Jones calls on his colleagues to pass gun control legislation from the well of the House Chambers during the legislative session at the State Capitol Thursday, March 30, 2023 in Nashville, Tenn.   (George Walker IV /The Tennessean via AP)

Three Democrats in Tennessee are on the verge of being ousted from the state House after leading protesters in chants in support of gun control. Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson approached the podium between bills on Thursday without being recognized to speak, USA Today reports. Using a megaphone, they led a mass of protesters in the galleries in demanding gun control following the March 27 shooting that claimed six lives at Nashville's Covenant School. The point was "to acknowledge the people outside surrounding this building, in the rotunda ... to speak to their issue and tell them that we are with them," Johnson later said, per the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Over the weekend, the lawmakers found their access to the building was restricted. Then on Monday, House Republicans filed resolutions to expel the three for "disorderly behavior." They "did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions," according to the resolutions, which were approved by a majority of the Republican caucus. House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison described Jones as a "former representative" on Monday evening, though a vote on the expulsions isn't expected until Thursday, per the AP. Earlier Monday, House Speaker Cameron Sexton stripped Johnson and Jones of committee assignments.

"What they did was try to hold up the people's business," Sexton said. "They decided that them being a victim was more important than focusing on the six victims from Monday. And that's appalling." "If you want to expel members for caring about third-grade kids, I guess you can go ahead and do that," Johnson responds, per WBIR. "This is a political lynching," adds Jones. If the House approves the resolutions, the lawmakers—who together represent more than 200,000 people in Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis—will get a chance to explain their behavior before a final expulsion vote, per USA Today. The outlet notes only two others have been expelled since the Civil War era—for bribery and alleged sexual misconduct. (More Tennessee stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.