In an average year, 1,385 children and adults alike, lose their lives to gun violence.
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Amy Grant, Brittney Spencer, Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, Madeline Edwards, Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, Ryan Hurd and Sheryl Crowe are among the artists who have signed a petition imploring the Tennessee General Assembly to pass “common sense gun legislation.”
The letter calls for extreme risk protection laws and legislation strengthening requirements around secure storage of firearms. The letter was drafted after of the deadly Covenant School shooting last month, in which three adults and three nine-year-old children were killed.
"Gun violence in Tennessee is not inevitable," the group said. "We are not hopeless, and we will not accept inaction. This does not have to be our normal and we ask that you stand with us! We know that gun safety laws work. Policies like extreme risk protection laws and secure storage of firearms can save lives. And we ask that you keep your session open until these policies are put into place."
The letter was delivered to state lawmakers on April 18 by a group of artists including Crow, Grant, Ruby Amanfu and Will Hoge, who spoke with House Speaker Cameron Sexton and others.
“We need to put the safety of our children above politics and special interests,” the group said in their letter. “We appreciate Governor Lee taking steps towards creating a safer community against gun violence, however we believe these are only the first steps in improving the safety for our children and Tennesseans. It’s time for you to pass effective measures that will keep guns out of dangerous hands before the shooting starts.”
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Last week, State governor Bill Lee said he will sign an executive order strengthening background checks for buying firearms in Tennessee as well as calling for the red flag law that would allow emergency court orders allowing police to temporarily confiscate weapons from those deemed a risk to themselves and others.
The Tennessean reported that the term “red flag law” is considered anathema in gun-rights circles, with the National Rifle Association sending out a call to supporters this week asking them to tell their lawmakers that they oppose the kinds of extreme-risk orders that have been passed in such conservative states as Florida, which passed one after the 2019 Parkland School shooting that left 14 students and three adults dead.
"Anything that's pushed to a later agenda just loses momentum," Christian singer-songwriter, Grant said. "There's too much pain to lose momentum… As songwriters, there's not a song when you show up at 10 a.m. — you just talk until the ideas come together. There is a force in communication, especially when it's a shared goal. By the end of the day, you've got a chorus. You actually can create something out of nothing with the right kind of concerted effort, and it can be game-changing."
The artists' letter is being published by Voices for a Safer Tennessee, a nonpartisan group formed in the wake of the Covenant shooting and is heavily lobbying lawmakers behind the scenes.
In addition, the group also organised an event in Nashville on Tuesday night where thousands of people linked arms and form a human chain in a push for extreme risk laws, stronger laws for gun storage and better background checks. The chain stretched from the Tennessee Capitol to the hospital where victims of the Covenant School shooting were taken on March 27.
Brad Paisley’s wife, actor Kimberly Williams-Paisley, was among the crowd. She shared a video of the event on social media, showing herself and a group of fellow protestors clad in red as a show of support for red flag laws.
“Powerful show of solidarity today Linking Arms for Change in a bipartisan show of support for gun safety,” she captioned. “Thanks Nashville and the more than 8500 people who showed up to link arms from Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to the Capitol. I love my community and want to see it protected.”
According to the Voices for a Safer Tennessee website, gun violence is the number one killer of children in Tennessee, taking more lives than car accidents. Additionally, in an average year, 1,385 children and adults alike, lose their lives to gun violence.
The letter was signed by: