Rep. Justin Jones showed support for the Covenant mothers who gathered at the Tennessee Capitol. Jones is one of the “Tennessee Three” who broke chamber decorum after the Covenant shooting by leading gun reform protests on the House floor. (Credit: Mary Joyce, Instagram)

Outraged mothers gathered at the Tennessee Capitol this week for a special session on public safety, called by Gov. Bill Lee in response to The Covenant School shooting. 

Six people – three of them children – were killed after a shooter opened fire in the private school back in March. The special session was meant to address gun policy, but instead was deemed  “solution-less” by House and Senate Democrats in a press conference Tuesday.

Covenant mothers protested in the hallway of the Capitol, telling the press their children are afraid to go to school.

“What if I die at school, Mommy?” one mother said her kindergartner asked at the beginning of the school year.

Another mother, Mary Joyce, expressed concern for her daughter, whom she said was best friends with nine-year-old victim Hallie Scruggs. “I don’t want to fear that my daughter might get killed,” she said.

Democratic lawmakers stood with the mothers and showed their support. Among them were Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin J. Pearson – known as the Tennessee Three – who broke chamber decorum after the Covenant shooting by leading gun reform protests on the House floor and joining demonstrators during a legislative session. Jones and Pearson were expelled from the GOP-dominated House in April, but won back their seats earlier this month.

A number of lawmakers have been pushing for “red flag” laws that would prevent high-risk people from legally obtaining weapons. While Gov. Lee, a Republican, has called for the state legislature to pass such laws, the Tuesday session proved unsuccessful. Jones and Pearson called for Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton to resign, while Johnson hugged the mothers and wept with them.

“I can’t stop thinking about all the conversations I’ve had recently with all the victims of gun violence across the state and country,” Johnson tweeted after the session. “The determination to fight for gun sense legislation as long as it takes is evident. It’s just so heartbreaking it is taking this long.”

Emotions ran high as mothers recalled more questions their children have asked them, such as “Will they teach us where to hide in the new classroom?” and “Will I be safe?”

Joyce, who said her child knows what it feels like to be shot at “over and over and over again,” repeatedly asked lawmakers why nothing is being done.

“I am a pleading mother,” she said. “I don’t want any of you to know what this feels like. Our community is hurting so much, and it can be stopped, and we need to make a difference. I am sick of it.”