President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with three Democratic lawmakers from Tennessee at the White House on Monday.
These legislators, known as the ‘Tennessee Three,’ previously faced expulsion votes over their protest for gun control on the state House floor.
The meeting focused on gun control measures, such as red flag laws, safe storage laws, an assault weapons ban, and strengthening background checks.
The Tennessee Three, comprising Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson, protested on the state House floor using a bullhorn to advocate for gun control.
Shortly after, a mass shooting at a Nashville Christian school killed six people, including three 9-year-old students.
Tennessee Republicans accused the trio of bringing “disorder and dishonor” to the House of Representatives, resulting in the expulsion of Jones and Pearson, both Black.
At the same time, Johnson, who is White, was not expelled.
Instead, the expelled lawmakers called the actions undemocratic and racist.
Local boards in the constituencies of Jones and Pearson reappointed them to the Tennessee House on an interim basis.
During the White House meeting, President Biden condemned the Republican legislature’s actions as “shocking,” “undemocratic,” and “without any precedent.”
However, he also commended the lawmakers for fighting for democracy and expressed interest in building a multiracial democracy to challenge extreme voices.
The Tennessee Three revealed their plans to ask President Biden to declare a public health emergency on gun violence, emphasizing the need for an emergency response in the face of a crisis.
However, it remains a challenging request, as President Biden stated that he had exhausted all available avenues to address gun violence.
Though Biden’s party no longer controls both chambers of Congress, he has urged Capitol Hill members to act.
After the Nashville shooting, Congress seemed unlikely to move on to substantive gun control efforts.
Since taking office, President Biden has taken over 20 executive actions on guns, including regulations on “ghost guns” and stabilizing braces sales.
In 2022, he signed a bipartisan bill expanding background checks and providing federal funding for red flag laws.
However, this bill did not ban weapons and fell short of what Biden and his party had advocated.
During the expulsion vote, the Tennessee Three had a conversation with President Biden, who thanked them for their leadership in seeking to ban assault weapons.
Vice President Harris also met with the lawmakers in Nashville to advocate for stricter gun control measures.
The White House meeting focused on the resurrection of a movement around commonsense gun laws and the resurgence of hope in challenging extreme special interests.