Tennessee Governor moves to strengthen background checks after Nashville shooting

Bill Lee also calls on state legislators to expand 'red flag' laws for better gun control

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee talks about gun control legislation, on April 11 in Nashville. AP
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Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on Tuesday signed an executive order strengthening background checks for people who want to buy guns in the state, shortly after a deadly school shooting in Nashville.

"The past two weeks have not only challenged those who were involved in this … it challenged every Tennessean," he said at a press conference at the Metro Nashville Police precinct in Midtown Hills.

"The tragedy. The struggle, my family included. Everyone's family."

The order requires local courts to report criminal records to state law enforcement within 72 hours, a measure aimed at more effective screening of those buying guns.

The order from the Republican Governor comes two weeks after three children and three adults were killed during a mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville

"It has certainly been a stark reminder to us about what really matters," Mr Lee said

He also urged state legislators to find a compromise to strengthen the state's "red flag" laws, making it more difficult for people considered to be a threat to the public or themselves from having access to firearms.

"I'm asking the legislature to bring forth thoughtful, practical measures to do that, to strengthen our laws, to separate those dangerous people from firearms, while at the same time preserving the constitutional rights of the people of this state," Mr Lee said.

Such legislation would supplement an existing law allowing courts to bar those guilty of domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking from owning or possessing firearms.

Mr Lee's call for co-operation followed the Republican-dominated Assembly's expulsion of two black Democrats who staged a protest in the Tennessee State Capitol calling for tighter gun controls.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: April 12, 2023, 8:30 AM