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TN Politics: Prayer Remains Top Republican Strategy to Curb Massacres of Children in U.S.

Assault weapons and hand guns for sale.
Seth Perlman
Assault weapons and hand guns for sale.

Tennessee lawmakers have spent the past several years making it easier to own and carry firearms in the state, while Democrats have argued to keep the previous status quo — gun permits, background checks and laws regarding safe storage. The large number of irresponsible gun owners has led to a massive black market of stolen weapons, particularly in urban areas such as Memphis and Nashville.

The debate over whether, as Republicans argue, a heavily armed society is far safer than one where gun ownership is regulated and permitted, is playing out again in the wake of a school shooting in Texas.

18 schoolchildren and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old legal gun owner using an AR-15-style rifle. It took more than an hourfor police to kill the murderer.

Conservative commentators have called for preparing schools for future gun battles using armed teachers, "man traps," "tripwires," declarations of martial law, guards patrolling a hardened perimeter, and combat training for children.

Reenforcing Tennessee's own "soft target" K-12 schools has not yet begun, though scores of guns are confiscated from students annually across the state.

So far, moral support has been the only security action taken by state lawmakers. Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Gov. Bill Lee are among lawmakers contributing "prayer" to the families in Texas, raising questions for some about its effectiveness in curbing gun violence, which is now the leading cause of death of children and teenagers in the United States.

Political analyst Otis Sanford says a mass shooting in Tennessee will likely result in a Republican effort to arm schoolteachers, since imposing restrictions on gun owners is not an option for them. Sanford says this is why any meaningful gun laws must originate in Congress.

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher has covered Memphis news, arts, culture and politics for more than 20 years in print and on the radio. He is currently WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.