I TALKED GUN REFORM WITH WILCO LAWMAKERS
It’s working. I spent two days at the capitol last week, and the phones were ringing like crazy in support of gun reform. The last three weeks have been an exhausting blur, I know, and I hope you’re hanging in there OK, but please take comfort in the fact that lawmakers are on alert that the people of this state are sick of kids getting shot and are demanding change. We just have to keep up the pressure.
Here’s my biggest advice: I showed up to the Cordell Hull Building last week without an appointment and dropped by lawmakers’ offices unannounced and asked for meetings. And it worked! You can, and should, do the same. You own that office building—it’s yours as a Tennessee resident—and, if you pop into your rep’s office and ask to be squeezed in between meetings, lawmakers will often accommodate you. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are best, given the legislative schedule. If you can spare the time to drive down to the capitol, please do. Bring a friend and a book (because you might have to wait) and demand action. (FWIW: Parking at the Nashville Library garage is pretty reasonable.)
***BREAKING***: Just as I was about to hit send on this email, The Tennessean broke the news that Governor Bill Lee will sign an executive order strengthening background checks for gun purchases, and he’s calling on lawmakers to pass an order-of-protection (aka red-flag) law. Like I said, it’s working!
OK, moving on to our local lawmakers. Here’s the gist of my two meetings:
 Two Lawmakers, Two Wildly Different Policy Positions
Sam Whitson: I spent 45 minutes with Sam Whitson, Franklin’s avuncular House representative, and he’s absolutely in favor of serious gun reform. He’s ex-military, has seen some gruesome stuff, and believes we need to reduce the number of guns on the street. Some of you might ding him points for not voting against the motions to expel Justin Jones and Justin Pearson last week. (Whitson abstained.) But my view is that, all told, we’re lucky to have Mr. Whitson. But he needs to speak out more—a lot more—because he’s a reasonable man surrounded by a bunch of, well, … you watched the expulsion hearings, right? I would encourage you to set up a time to meet with him in person. If you’re a constituent, he’ll do it. His email: email@example.com. Be sure to mention you live in Franklin if that’s true. (He’s in Suite 552 in Cordell Hull if you drop by.)
Jack Johnson: I met with Jack Johnson, the Senate majority leader, on Wednesday, and, I must say, it went horribly. He started out by attacking me for some emails I’d written to him over the years, but I’ll spare you the details on that. The big takeaways from our conversation: