NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Lawmakers on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill faced a difficult question about the Florida school shootings – is it time to act or is it the time to mourn today?
The answers about gun issues went straight down party lines.
“It is not enough to do nothing,” implored House Democrat Caucus chair Mike Stewart.
“Today we should mourn, tomorrow we can talk,” countered House Republican leader Glen Casada.
The back and forth began in front of an Instagram picture of the troubled gun-toting 19-year- old charged with the Florida school shooting deaths when Tennessee Legislative Democrats blamed Republican counterparts for either blocking gun control bills or allowing weapons almost anywhere.
“They want everyone to have a gun wherever they go no matter what,” said Rep. Sherry Jones.
A freshman Democrat hopes he can regulate the so-called “bumpstock” devices used by the Las Vegas shooter last fall that make semi-automatic rifles into rapid fire weapons.
“Anyone possessing these [would] have it registered with the Department of Homeland Security with a modest registration fee,” said Shelby County Democrat Rep. Dwayne Thompson.
Republicans staunchly maintained that Thursday was not the day to talk about gun issues.
“My strong urge is to tell them there is plenty of time to limit our rights, our constitutional Second Amendment rights,” added Republican Leader Casada.
The top House Republicans said it was a time to mourn today before talking about gun issues tomorrow, but they pointed to a bi-partisan bill that requires the TBI to notify state health officials within a day if a person legally deemed mentally defective tries to buy a weapon.
“From Florida, I think that was one of the things the sheriff has discussed that he said would empower law enforcement to go the extra mile,” added House Republican Caucus Chair Ryan Williams.
Casada summed it up this way for the Republicans, “I think what we have here is not gun problem, but a heart problem.”
Despite a little bit of agreement, many parts of the gun issue remain as contentious as ever with more controversial bills soon to be heard on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill.