When I ran to represent District 59 in the state house, never in a million years did I picture my first few months in office would look like this. Tennessee was thrown into the national spotlight after the horrific school shooting at the Covenant School and the subsequent assault on democracy through the expulsion of three of my colleagues.
The last two weeks of my life have been insane. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the Vice President and First Lady of the United States, been featured on national cable news shows, and a front-page New York Times story. Like every member of our community, I have had many emotions, including grief, anger, and disbelief. However, I’m grateful to be in this position and be a leading voice for common sense policies and reasonableness in Tennessee.
However, last Thursday’s events at the Capitol were a new low for conduct at the Legislature and showed the country some of the unfortunate behavior I see every day. I voted “No” on the expulsion resolutions of Rep. Justin Jones, Rep. Justin Pearson, and Rep. Gloria Johnson based on the facts of the case. That vote was blatantly political and the punishment didn’t fit the crime. The “Tennessee Three,” as they are now known, were being expelled for a minor rules infraction. The actions of my GOP colleagues calling for the expulsion versus other more rational options like an Ethics committee investigation or censure showed a lot of hypocrisy and was a complete distraction from the work that we should be doing. It was all a giant waste of time (ex. the three Reps. initially caused a 40-minute delay in proceedings, but we wasted 6 hours on the expulsion proceedings). If there is anything we can all agree on after witnessing last week’s events, we should stay focused on what our constituents elected us to do instead of fighting amongst oursleves.
Overall, the proceedings backfired spectacularly and caused the country to take notice of the GOP supermajority’s behavior and awful record on democracy. I hope it doesn’t cause longstanding damage to our state’s reputation and business climate (Note: Saturday Night Live has called out GOP politicians in Tennessee for the fourth week in a row!).
Now that the kangaroo court has closed, it is time to get back to the issue at hand, common-sense gun reforms. With this session ending in a few weeks, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity through gun safety legislation to keep our community safe. We have to act now!
House and Senate Democrats are spending this week refocusing on calling for Governor Lee, Lt. Gov. McNally, and Speaker Sexton to announce what they are willing to do on gun safety reforms. Last week, my Democrat colleagues announced a slate of gun safety legislation to consider, including an Extreme Risk Protection Order bill based on the Florida law and my Safe Storage law proposal.
Last week, I met with a group of Covenant 3rd-grade parents. Hearing their story about what happened at the school makes me so thankful for MNPD’s response and for God’s grace for the others in the building, even though everyone’s lives were changed forever. When you look back at the last three mass shootings in Nashville, they all had one scenario in common: a mentally ill shooter that legally obtained an assault weapon when they shouldn’t have, and people in their lives who had reported these issues and firearms to law enforcement. We know how to fix this problem. Now we need my Republican colleagues to show the political courage to join Democrats in passing common sense gun safety legislation.
Rep. Hemmer and Democratic colleagues meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris
I am focusing on an outreach campaign to center on actions rather than talk. I would urge you to look into groups such as Mom’s Demand Action and Voices for a Safer Tennessee to get more involved in gun safety efforts in Tennessee. If you would like to help, this is what you can do.
Emails and Phone Update
I have to apologize for not being as responsive as I would like. I have been averaging several hundred emails daily; some days, it hits over a thousand. Unlike a congressional office with a whole department to deal with these issues, it is just myself and my legislative assistant, Kathryn, so we are still digging out, but know that I appreciate you reaching out and making your voice heard, I will get back to you as soon as I can.
If you have an urgent need, please call my office at 615-741-2035.
Thank you and as always, please reach out if I can be of any assistance.
Rep. Caleb Hemmer and family attend the White House Easter Egg Roll
-Rep. Caleb Hemmer
Upcoming District Events
- 04/17 – Moral Monday with Rev. William Barber – Details TBD
- 04/26 – Bellevue Chamber – Mayoral Forum Luncheon @ Loveless Barn
What We’ve Been Reading