Representative Justin Jones was reinstated in the House of Tennessee on Monday and pledged to keep fighting for the gun violence reform laws days after he was ousted with another representative Justin Pearson over a demonstration, CNN reported.
“The first thing I do when I walk into this building as a representative is to continue that call for common sense gun legislation,” Representative Jones said while in the Capitol.
Republicans voted to expel two African American Democrat legislators from the House of Representatives on Friday.
The resolutions were to out three members. Jones and Pearson were expelled, however, the Republican-dominated house could not oust the third representative Gloria Johnson — white.
In a vote of 36-0, Nashville Metropolitan Council reappointed Jones as a House of Representatives member. This time, he would an interim representative.
According to State law, it allows local legislative bodies to appoint interim House members to fill the seats of expelled lawmakers until an election is held.
While coming to the Capitol, Jones said: “Today we are sending a resounding message that democracy will not be killed in the comfort of silence.”
As a new member, Jones said he can file 15 bills and he’ll be working on gun reform legislation right away when he returns Tuesday.
“Every single one of those bills going to have to do with that, because that’s what these young people are begging us to do,” he told CNN.
In a statement by the Tennessee House Republicans on Monday, said, “Tennessee’s constitution provides a pathway back from expulsion. Should any expelled member be reappointed, we will welcome them. Like everyone else, they are expected to follow the rules of the House as well as state law.”
However, Pearson’s seat is still vacant and will be addressed on Wednesday during a Shelby County Board of Commissioners meeting in Memphis, said Commission Chairman Mickell Lowery.
Pearson as he was standing alongside Jones on the stairs of Capitol: “To anyone who has doubted the South, anyone who’s doubted the power of Tennesseans to advocate for an end to gun violence, anybody who’s doubted the movement to end assault weapons – anybody who’s doubted the movement, here’s your answer: The movement still lives.”
While talking with CNN, Pearson said that the reinstatement of Justin brings celebration. However, he also said that it was also another tragic day marked by a mass shooting in Louisville, Kentucky – which comes less than a month after the Nashville school shooting that killed six people including three nine-year-old children.
Pearson was of the view that the shooting in Louisville points to a “sobering reality that we are in that we are not doing enough to prevent gun violence.”
He also added: “It’s also a painful moment of recognition that our legislators and people like (Speaker of the House) Cameron Sexton and the Republican party in Tennessee and across the South in this country are not doing nearly enough to prevent guns from getting in the hands of people and doing all of the holistic work of gun prevention that is necessary in places across our communities.”
The resolutions which led to the removal of the two lawmakers were put forth under Article II, Section 12 of the Tennessee Constitution, stating, in part, “the House can set its own rules and punish its members for disorderly behaviour, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”