April 12, 2024

Tennessee GOP senator refuses to weigh in on banning AR-15s after mass shooting

From CNN’s Manu Raju and Morgan Rimmer

Sen. Bill Hagerty, a Tennessee Republican, refused to discuss calls to ban AR-15s after the mass shooting at a Christian school killed six people.

“The tragedy that happened in my state was the result of a depraved person and somebody very, very sick. And the result has been absolutely devastating for the people in my community. Right now with the victims, the family and the people in my community — we are all mourning right now,” Hagerty told CNN.

Asked about banning AR-15-style weapons, he added, “I’m certain politics will wave into everything. But right now I’m not focused on the politics of the situation. I’m focused on the victims.”

Police said the shooter was armed with a handgun and two AR-style weapons — one a rifle and an AR-style pistol.

Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley argued that semi-automatic weapons should not be banned because they have other uses.

“A lot of people use ARs and AKs for sporting purposes,” he said.

He said the shooting in Nashville should be investigated as a hate crime and that he has called on FBI Director Christopher Wray and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to look into it.

“It appears to be a hate crime and it should be investigated as such, and we need to find out more about this individual, whether this person should have firearms at all — maybe should not have,” Hawley said.

9-year-old victim was a “shining light,” her family says

From CNN’s Sarah Dewberry

Evelyn Dieckhaus.
Evelyn Dieckhaus. (KMOV/Dieckhaus Family)

The family of Evelyn Dieckhaus has been left in disbelief after she and two other 9-year-olds were killed in Monday’s mass school shooting in Nashville, according to a statement obtained by CNN affiliate KMOV. Three adults were also killed in the attack at the Covenant School.

“Our hearts are completely broken. We cannot believe this has happened,” the family’s statement says. “Evelyn was a shining light in this world. We appreciate all the love and support but ask for space as we grieve.”

Here’s what we know so far about the six victims.

Biden after another mass shooting: “I can’t do anything except plead with the Congress”

From CNN’s Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden suggested Tuesday in the aftermath of another mass school shooting that any future action on gun violence will fall to Congress, as he said he has exhausted all executive actions.

“I can’t do anything except plead with the Congress to act reasonably,” the president told CNN’s MJ Lee as he departed the White House for an unrelated trip to North Carolina. His administration has reined in so-called ghost guns, promoted safe storage of firearms, bolstered police forces and expanded community violence intervention programs.

“I have done the full extent of my executive authority — to do on my own, anything about guns … The Congress has to act. The majority of the American people think having assault weapons is bizarre, it’s a crazy idea. They’re against that. And so I think the Congress could be passing an assault weapon ban,” Biden said.

Biden will travel to Nashville, he told Lee. “Yes, I’ve spoken with everyone down there, from the mayor to the senators, all the players, I spoke with the chief of police today,” he said. “I’ve spoken to all of them.”

What lawmakers are saying about AR-15s and gun reform legislation after the Nashville school shooting

From CNN’s Morgan Rimmer, Lauren Fox and Manu Raju

CNN spoke with Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, one day after a school shooting in Nashville left three children and three adults dead.

Top House and Senate Republicans rejected calls for additional action on guns, arguing there’s no appetite for tougher restrictions.

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, whose committee has jurisdiction over gun policy, said he doesn’t think Congress should limit assault weapons.

“The Second Amendment is the Second Amendment,” he said. “I believe in the Second Amendment, and we shouldn’t penalize law-abiding American citizens.”

Sen. Lindsey Grahamthe top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a participant in prior negotiations on gun legislation, said, “I don’t know if there’s much space to do more, but I’ll certainly look and see.”

Graham said he is opposed to a ban on AR-15s, noting he owns one himself, and he argued it would “be hard to implement a national red flag law.”

After the shooting in his district yesterday, Republican Rep. Andy Ogles shut down questions about banning AR-15 rifles.

Ogles, who represents Nashville, said, “Why not talk about the real issue facing the country? And that’s mental health.”

Remember, Ogles posted a photo on Facebook in Christmas 2022 when he was mayor of Maury County that showed him and his family standing in front of a Christmas tree holding weapons, with the caption: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters that he is “not very hopeful” that the Senate can pass gun legislation this Congress, adding, “yet we have to try.”

“This is uniquely American and the people of this country have to ask themselves a basic question: Had enough? Had enough of sending your children and grandchildren to school and wondering if they’re going to be victims of assault rifles?” he said.

He also went after Republican arguments that semiautomatic weapons are constitutionally protected.

“I mean, this is madness. To think that some people rationalize this as part of the Second Amendment is beyond me,” he said.

Despite Republican opposition, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal insisted he is not giving up.

“We’ve heard before that gun violence prevention is impossible, and yet we’ve made progress as we come together. I’m not taking no for an answer,” he said. “I’m going to continue seeking to enlist my Republican colleagues because they know the outrage, the grief.”

Republican Rep. Byron Donalds pushed back on calls for further gun legislation and a ban on AR-15s.

“If you’re going to talk about the AR-15, we’re talking politics now,” he said. “Let’s not get into politics. Let’s not get into emotion, because emotion feels good, but emotion doesn’t solve problems.”

Republican Sen. Todd Young, when asked if he’d support a hearing specifically on assault weapons, said he’d back a hearing to understand what happened during the Nashville shooting.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise demurred when asked if the shooting would move Congress to address any sort of reforms.

“The first thing in any kind of tragedy I do is I pray. I pray for the victims, pray to their families. I really get angry when I see people try to politicize it for their own personal agenda, especially when we don’t even know the facts or facts coming out,” he said.

“Let’s get the facts. And let’s work to see if there’s something that we can do to help secure schools,” he said. “We’ve talked about things that we can do and it just seems like on the other side, all they want to do is take guns away from law-abiding citizens.”

Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Pete Aguilar said “shame on Speaker (Kevin) McCarthy” for not wanting to bring up gun legislation.

Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Ted Lieu criticized Republicans for delaying a Judiciary Committee hearing on guns today.

“Now why would they do that, if they honestly believe as they say that arming more Americans with more guns, more AR-15s, more pistol braces would make us safer? They would have held a hearing and had that as a solution, but they didn’t do that. They ran away. They ran away, and they’re hiding,” Lieu said, closing with “coward.”

Separately, Senate Chaplain Barry Black, whose role is traditionally nonpolitical, called for lawmakers to take action on gun violence “beyond thoughts and prayers” after the shooting.

“Lord, when babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers,” he said Tuesday morning on the Senate floor.

CNN’s Nicky Robertson contributed reporting to this post.

CNN analyst reacts to Nashville body cam footage: “Law enforcement at its finest”


CNN law enforcement analyst Jonathan Wackrow commended officers for their response to Monday’s shooting at a Nashville school, as seen in footage released Tuesday from two of the officers’ body cameras.

“What the viewers are seeing is law enforcement at its finest,” said Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent.

The videos from the body-worn cameras of officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo — who Nashville police said fatally shot the attacker — show officers go into The Covenant School and immediately enter several rooms to look for the suspect as siren wail.

“Not knowing what the circumstances really were upon arrival, officers remain calm and collected, not raising anxiety but making the entry as necessary to go search for the suspect,” he said, adding officers relied on their training to move toward the sound of gunfire and confront the shooter.

The speed with which officers respond to a shooter is “essential for the preservation of life,” Wackrow said. “And these officers did a remarkable job.”

Source: cnn.com

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