Watch CBS News

Hundreds protest at Tennessee Capitol for tighter gun controls after Nashville shooting

Nashville protesters demand gun reform
Protesters demand gun reform after Nashville school shooting 02:22

Hundreds of school children, teens and parents gathered at the Tennessee Capitol on Thursday to protest for tighter gun controls laws three days after a shooter opened fire at The Covenant School, killing three children and three adults.

At the Capitol, protestors lined the hallways and chanted at the state's Republican-dominated Legislature as they filed in to begin taking up bills for the first time since the shooting.

Chants of "Save our children!" echoed noisily in the hallways between the state Senate and House chambers, with protesters setting up shop inside and outside the Capitol. Some silently filled the Senate chamber's gallery, including children who held signs reading "I'm nine" — a reference to the age of the three kids who died in Monday's attack. Most protesters were removed from the gallery after some began yelling down at the lawmakers, "Children are dead!"

Meanwhile, in the House, two Democratic lawmakers caused a temporary shutdown when they began yelling, "Power to the people" through a megaphone.    

Firearms recently became the number one cause of death for children and teens in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle deaths and those caused by other injuries, according to an analysis by KFF, a not-for-profit providing health policy analysis and journalism. 

Since the Columbine High School Massacre in 1999, 175 people have died in 15 mass shootings events connected to U.S. schools and colleges, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

Thursday's rally was led by Metro Nashville Public Schools Parents, reported CBS affiliate WTVF, and those attending were asked to wear orange.

Six Killed In Mass Shooting At A Prive School In Nashville
Protesters gather inside the Tennessee State Capitol to call for an end to gun violence and support stronger gun laws in Nashville, Tennessee.  Seth Herald via Getty Images

In Washington D.C., Republicans showed little appetite to pass more gun restrictions.  Rep. Tim Burchett, a Tennessee Republican who represents the Knoxville area, said Congress isn't going to fix the problems that led to Monday's shooting. 

The protests followed a Wednesday night candlelight vigil in Nashville where Republican lawmakers stood alongside first lady Jill Biden, Democratic lawmakers and musicians including Sheryl Crow, who has called for stricter gun controls since the attack.

The vigil was somber and at times tearful, as speaker after speaker read the victims' names and offered condolences to their loved ones but refrained from any statement that could be seen as political. The family of Mike Hill, a 61-year-old custodian who was among those killed, was in attendance, including his seven children.

"Just two days ago was our city's worst day," Mayor John Cooper said. "I so wish we weren't here, but we need to be here."

In attendance was Shaundelle Brooks, whose 23-year-old son, Akilah Dasilva, was among the four people killed in a 2018 shooting at a Nashville Waffle House. Brooks said she went to the vigil to support the families of those killed at the school.

"I know what it's like to be a parent - what it feels like, like you're drowning and can't move, and that weakness and that hole that comes in your stomach," she said.

Police have said a 28-year-old former student, whom they identified as Audrey Hale, drove up to the school on Monday morning, shot out the glass doors, entered and began firing indiscriminately. Police later fatally shot Hale.

In addition to Hill, the victims were identified as three 9-year-old students, Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney; Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of the school; and substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61.

Cara Tabachnick and Kathryn Watson contributed reporting

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.