US lawmakers expelled over gun control protest

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The Tennessee House of Representatives voted on Thursday to remove two Democratic members for violating House rules by holding a gun-control protest on the house floor.

President Joe Biden was quick to condemn the Republican-led legislature’s action, calling it “undemocratic.”

Representative Justin Jones was voted out by a vote of 72 to 25, while 69 lawmakers supported the ouster of his colleague, Justin Pearson, who took office on March 27. Gloria Johnson, a fellow Democrat, nearly avoided the same fate when the proposal to remove her failed by a single vote.

Since the end of the American Civil War, there have only been a few similar incidents.

After the votes were counted, demonstrators in support of the ejected members screamed “shame on you!” and “fascists!” from the House gallery, according to The Tennessean. At least 20 people reportedly conducted a “die-in” rally outside the chamber doors.

Pearson called the expulsion decision a “erosion of democracy in the state legislature,” adding that “we will never quit.”

The two deposed parliamentarians, both black, also pointed out that their white colleague was spared, citing a “racial dynamic” at work. Republican leaders refuted the allegations.

Jones and Pearson disrupted House proceedings last week by using a bullhorn to lead protests from the floor, claiming that Republicans had failed to address the topic of gun control in the aftermath of a horrific shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville late last month.

Johnson, who took part in the protest as well, claims she did not use the bullhorn. All three Democrats also encouraged children, parents, and others who had backed them in the legislature to chant gun-control chants.

Resolutions of expulsion were filed against the lawmakers for “knowingly and intentionally bringing[ing] disorder and dishonor” to the legislature as a result of the incident.

While the removed officials admitted to violating the code of conduct, many Democratic colleagues believed that their dismissal was unfair.

President Biden issued a statement on Thursday, calling the dismissal of the two MPs “shocking, undemocratic, and unprecedented.”

He accused Republicans of failing to truly discuss gun violence and instead concentrate on coming after their Democratic counterparts.