WASHINGTON (CN) — Members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation expressed their grief Monday in the hours after three students and three adults were fatally shot at a private Christian school in the state’s capital.
Police have not yet identified the victims or the attacker, who they say was a 28-year-old woman killed in the ensuing confrontation with officers on the grounds of The Covenant School, a private Presbyterian school for students from preschool to sixth grade with about 300 children enrolled and 50 adults on staff.
While there is no public information yet about the shooter’s motive, authorities believe she was a former student.
Metro Nashville Police say she entered The Covenant School armed with two rifles and a handgun.
Representative Andrew Ogles, a Republican who represents the state’s 5th Congressional District, territory that includes the area of southern Nashville where Covenant is located, wrote Monday about his sorrow over the murders.
“As a father of three, I am utterly heartbroken by this senseless act of violence,” the congressman said in a statement. “I am closely monitoring the situation and working with local officials. Thank you to the brave first responders who have provided support throughout this tragedy
In the upper chamber, Tennessee Senators Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn both tweeted their condolonces.
“Devastated and heartbroken about the tragic news at Covenant School,” Hagerty wrote Monday afternoon. “I'm grateful to law enforcement and first responders for their heroic actions.”
Senator Marsha Blackburn, a fellow Republican, thanked thanked first responders and added that her office was in contact with state and local officials.
Meanwhile, Tennessee’s sole Democratic lawmaker said such a tragedy should make his state take a harder look at restricting access to firearms.
“This horrifying incident at an elementary school in which three children and three adults have been confirmed killed is yet another reminder that we must keep guns from the wrong hands,” Representative Steve Cohen said in an email.
“Whatever the senseless motive for this killing,” said Cohen, who represents Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District including parts of Memphis. “Tennessee must find ways to strengthen its comparatively weak gun laws in an effort to save innocent lives.”
As the U.S. grapples with yet another mass shooting in the early months of 2023, Congress is gearing up to debate proposed legislation that would roll back a new rulemaking from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Exploisives that some GOP lawmakers have called an unconstitutional restriction on gun ownership.
The House Judiciary Committee was scheduled Tuesday to examine a joint resolution proposed by Geogia Republican Andrew Clyde that, if approved, would do away with the ATF’s January regulation that clarifies the agency’s criteria for firearms that must be registered as rifles with the federal government.
Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, the panel's chair, said Monday night that the bill's markup would be postponed due to the shooting in Nashville. A new date for debate has yet to be scheduled.
The ATF rule, which went into effect Jan. 31, says that firearms with an attached stabilizing brace allowing them to be fired from the shoulder could be considered rifles or short-barreled rifles under federal law, and that failing to comply with the new regulations would be a violation of the National Firearms Act punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Clyde and other House Republicans have framed the agency’s rulemaking as a violation of the Second Amendment, arguing that it would criminalize certain types of stabilizing braces designed to make firearms use easier for disabled individuals.
According to the ATF, the new regulations do not apply to such attachments since they are not designed to allow firearms to be fired from the shoulder.
Updated 03/28/2023 9:58 a.m. Eastern time.
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