TN governor signs order to enhance school safety; Will not consider gun reform

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Monday morning, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order to improve school safety following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 students and two adults.

“Our schools should be a safe place where we want our children, teachers and staff to know it’s safe to go to school and safe to return to,” Gov. Lee said.

Executive Order 97 calls for things like new police active-duty marksman training standards, more frequent and unannounced safety assessments at every public school, and new safety plans and resource guides for parents and teachers to be released before the upcoming school year.

“We must work together to get the little things right and treat our public schools with the same vigilance as we treat our homes,” Lee said.

However, the order does not include plans for tougher gun laws in Tennessee.

“We are not currently dealing with gun control laws in my government. Criminals don’t obey the law, criminals break the law. Whether it’s a gun law or a drug law, criminals break the law,” Gov. Lee said. “We can’t control what they do.”

Governor Bill Lee signs Executive Order 97
Gov. Bill Lee signs Executive Order 97 on June 6, 2022 (WKRN video)

Instead, Lee said he’s focused on alternatives like working to add a school resource officer to every school in the state — a push that began in 2019 when a grant placed 213 new SROs in classrooms.

Williamson County State Representative Brandon Ogles (District 61) said Governor Lee has been committed to Tennessee school safety since taking office.

“When I first came in as a state representative, I worked on a bill to introduce an SRO in every school. Everyone said I was crazy. The governor stepped in and made a whole lot of money available. We’ve accomplished a lot. And it sounds like he’s ready today to do what is necessary to end that and establish an SRO in each of our schools,” Ogles said.

However, some Tennessee Democrats were not happy with the governor’s new plans, including Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), who issued a statement after the executive order was released calling for action to reduce gun violence in Tennessee. Her full statement is below:

Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in America today. We are the only country in the world with a major political party that chooses to do nothing to prevent gun violence from killing our children. Unfortunately, Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order on school safety is rather the same. While I’m disappointed again, I’m not surprised.

Taking action to reduce gun violence should not be partisan politics. This is a clear emergency and we must act now. We cannot allow another person to be murdered in a school, grocery store, or place of worship.

Since the Uvalde massacre at Robb Elementary School, there have been nearly two dozen mass shootings across America. At least 54 people were injured and 11 killed in various mass shootings this weekend, including one in Chattanooga where three Tennesseans died.

They aren’t video games. It’s not our teachers or library books. They’re guns.

We cannot continue to let arms industry lobbyists decide what is best for public health and safety. It’s killing us. I reject the notion that we are helpless in the face of gun violence.

Tennessee families believe in responsible gun ownership and support laws that would deny firearms and weapons of war to people who fail background checks. That’s not radical. That’s just common sense.

With all this talk about freedom, remember that our families and children deserve the freedom to live. There are many evidence-based gun violence reduction solutions that work. If we can spare another family the pain and agony of burial [a] 9 year old kid, I feel morally obliged to try. TN governor signs order to enhance school safety; Will not consider gun reform

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