KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Hundreds of Knoxville residents linked arms in Market Square to show support for common sense gun laws.
The group Voices for a Safer Tennessee organized the demonstration, alongside a similar one in Nashville. The demonstrations come after the school shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville last month.
Amy Johnson with Voices for a Stronger Tennessee said the need for gun reform is something both political parties can agree on.
“Linking arms represents that we are here, in unity, republicans and democrats, it’s a very bipartisan makeup,” Johnson said.
She also said Governor Bill Lee has taken measures to improve gun and school safety.
“Governor Lee has come out in support of both the background check with his executive order that he issued on Monday, as well as he is encouraging the legislature to pass an extreme risk protective order law this session,” Johnson said.
While linking arms, demonstrators also sang songs, including “What a Wonderful World.” Johnson read in an article that Evelyn Dieckhaus, one of The Covenant School shooting victims, was supposed to perform the song in a play in the days following the shooting.
Out of the big group of demonstrators, many were children. Destini Price is the mother of a 4-year-old and said she worries about her daughter starting school next year.
“I’m just really nervous about sending her, so I’m hoping within this year and with us protesting and stuff we can end the gun violence so we can send her to school safely without having cops outside,” Price said.
Laura Davis is also a mother and a teacher. She said she worries about her son while also worrying about her students.
“I have a 6-year-old son who is in first grade, I’m also a high school teacher and coming to work everyday is scary, it’s been scary for the past several years and its even more real when I have a son in school, and I get alerts when things happen, and this has to stop, it has to end,” Davis said.
Amber Engle works at Nature’s Way Montessori School, and brought her daughter to the demonstration to show her that every voice matters.
“They can advocate for themselves, and when they see that there is something they don’t agree with, they have a voice, and they can use their voice and they should use their voice,” Engle said.
She also thinks measures can be taken to prevent dangerous situations in school.
“It is not up to us as teachers to be the frontlines of defense when there are other things that can be prevented, so we want legislators to understand the importance of legislation that can stop things before they start, and let us get back to our jobs of educating children and promoting a better place for our children to grow up in,” she said.
The string of people linking arms in Nashville stretched from the children’s hospital where The Covenant School shooting victims were taken, to the state capitol.