Tennessee’s Republican governor has signed an executive order to strengthen background checks for the purchase of guns and has urged lawmakers to pass legislation tightening gun laws.
Governor Bill Lee’s decision comes in the aftermath of last month’s Nashville school tragedy, which killed six people, including three children.
“This is our moment to lead,” he said.
The state has some of the most lax gun laws in the US.
The shooting at a private Christian school rekindled nationwide calls for gun reform, including from two Democratic black state politicians who were ousted from the Tennessee House of Representatives last week for participating in the protests.
Earlier this week, Nashville officials opted to reinstall one of the politicians, Justin Jones, as a temporary representative. On Wednesday, officials will decide whether the second lawmaker, Justin Pearson, may also temporarily resume his post.
The executive order signed by Mr Lee on Tuesday attempts to strengthen background checks by mandating that new criminal activity be reported to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation within 72 hours. It also requires the bureau to examine the state’s current process for purchasing guns.
Mr. Lee also asked Tennessee lawmakers to approve red flag laws, which allow authorities to temporarily seize firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or others.
The Republican governor said more action was needed to protect the people of Tennessee.
“It’s going to require coming together and laying down our previously held positions,” he said. “We should set aside our differences and accomplish something Tennesseans want us to accomplish.”
Tennessee Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton told local media outlets that while the House is “willing to work toward bipartisan solutions,” health protection orders “must have a level of due process” and “protections from fraudulent claims.”
Some Republican-led states, including Florida and Indiana, have passed red flag laws. Still, similar legislation may be difficult to pass in Tennessee, where some Republican lawmakers have stated resistance to any form of gun control legislation.
Tennessee has some of the least stringent gun laws in the country, allowing individuals 21 and older to carry hidden and unconcealed pistols without a permit.
According to police, the 28-year-old man accused of killing six people at the Covenant School legitimately purchased seven firearms and hid them at home.
During the school attack, the gunman was armed with three firearms, including a semi-automatic assault rifle.
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