NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Thursday, the normally quiet surroundings of the Tennessee State Capitol were filled with the voices of frustrated residents.
“Everybody’s demanding change, everybody’s had enough, and, it was a beautiful day,” said Linda McFadyen-Ketchum, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action.
The demand for change poured into the Capitol. Inside the Senate Chamber, chanting could be heard through the door, while state troopers tried to control the crowd.
“Angry,” is how McFadyen-Ketchum described the feeling during the protest. “There’s a time for tears. I don’t have any more tears. I’m angry, and a lot of people there were angry. I didn’t see much emotion. It was, ‘Fix this, there are things that we can do. Fix this.'”
The protest was held just three days after six lives were taken in The Covenant School shooting. Gun control is now at the center of the issue, especially for those who knew the victims personally.
“He called me on the way and said, ‘She didn’t make it, Anna,’ and I had to pull over. That was devastating,” remembered Anna Caudill, a close friend of Dr. Katherine Koonce.
Headmaster of The Covenant School, Koonce sprung into action when she heard gunfire. Now, those close to her want to see a change in her honor.
“I’m very proud of our young people, who have had to endure growing up with this, and what I see as the arrogance of legislatures who couldn’t even wait until my beloved friend’s funeral was over to try to push for even looser gun limits,” said Caudill.
This month, a Vanderbilt University Poll showed Tennessee parents agree on several school firearm safety measures. More than 1,000 people were polled. The study found 70% agree background checks should be expanded on all gun sales, 63% believe law enforcement should be able to temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns if they pose a risk to themselves or others, and 53% believe the age to purchase a gun should be 21.
However, Republicans have been moving this year to loosen gun laws in Tennessee.
“The disconnect is at the ballot box. Tennesseans are terrible voters, we don’t vote enough. In the Tennessee House, each rep represents about 64,000, but when it comes to election time only 25,000 people on average vote in those elections. And the folks who know what they want — you want easy relaxed gun laws and easy access to guns— they have figured out how to get their people to vote,” said McFadyen-Ketchum.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the largest gun-violence prevention organizations in America, Tennessee has the 10th highest rate of gun deaths.
“I am for responsible gun use and ownership, my father-in-law taught me how to respect a gun,” said Caudill. “But this need to have assault weapons available, without permits and willy-nilly …
it’s incredibly dangerous, as we have learned, [and comes at] great costs. And we will continue to bear the cost of [it] for years to come.”