Justin Jones, Gloria Johnson: 3 Tennessee Democratic state reps face expulsion after gun control protest
(CNN) Tennessee House Republicans took steps Monday toward expelling three Democratic state representatives after they participated in protests at the state Capitol last Thursday calling for more gun control in the wake of deadly mass shootings. at Covenant School of Nashville.
GOP lawmakers introduced three resolutions Monday, one each calling for the expulsion of Reps. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, Justin Jones of Nashville and Justin Pearson of Memphis, each of whom had already been removed from their committee duties after last week’s demonstrations. passed. The resolutions were submitted by Republican representatives Bud Hulsey, Gino Bulso and Andrew Farmer.
The three Democratic lawmakers led a protest on the House floor last Thursday, CNN affiliate WSMV reported, using a bullhorn as demonstrators called on lawmakers to do something to prevent further gun violence after three 9-year-olds and three adults were killed in one mass. shooting at the private Christian school last week.
CNN has reached out to Johnson, Jones and Pearson.
The 28-year-old gunman was armed with three guns and fired 152 rounds during the attack, police said.
“There comes a time when you have to do something out of the ordinary,” Jones said in a tweet. “We occupied the House floor today after being repeatedly silenced from talking about the mass shooting crisis.”
In a series of tweets Monday, House Speaker Cameron Sexton called the actions of Democratic lawmakers “unacceptable,” adding that they broke “several rules of the rules and procedures on the House floor.”
CNN has reached out to Sexton.
Lawmakers themselves, however, appeared defiant, with Johnson telling reporters on Monday: “We have committed no crime.”
Johnson admitted they “broke a rule” by speaking out of turn, but stressed: “We went to the well to talk to people who begged us to protect them.”
House Democrats expressed solidarity with the trio in a statement Monday, saying the caucus stood “strongly united” with them.
“The Democratic Department has voted unanimously, formally, to oppose the baseless impeachment resolutions and will vigorously oppose them if they come up for a vote on the House floor,” the statement said.
Efforts to expel the three House members are “morally bankrupt,” the group of black state lawmakers in Tennessee said in a statement Tuesday.
“Political punishment is unconstitutional,” caucus chairman and Democratic Rep. Sam McKenzie said in the statement. “We fundamentally oppose any attempt to expel members for making their voices heard to end gun violence.”
The Speaker of the House should lead bipartisan discussions to “generate reforms that can stop future school shootings,” McKenzie added.
“Instead, he is using his power to silence people who are calling for solutions he opposes,” he said.
A vote on whether to expel the three members is scheduled for Thursday, according to The Tennessean. The representatives will have a chance to defend themselves, the newspaper writes.
CNN’s Amy Simonson and Jaide Timm-Garcia contributed to this report.