News

Nashville school shooting again calls for more gun control

Olivia Allery, news editor

Students rallied in downtown Nashville as part of the Nashville Student Walk Out on April 3, 2023, to demand gun reform. The walkout began at 10:13am, one week following the shooting at Covenant School, where a 28-year-old gunman killed three staff members and three nine-year-old students.

On the morning of Monday, March 27, Audrey Hale carried three assault weapons into the Covenant School in Nashville, TN and opened fire. A 911 active shooter call was placed at 10:13 a.m. after Hale entered the school by shooting out a side door. Authorities showed up minutes after the call was placed. Body camera footage taken on scene from Officer Rex Engelbert showed that Hale had made it to the second story of the building where officers confronted him in an open atrium where he was shot and killed at 10:27 a.m.

Within those 14 minutes, Hale unloaded 152 rounds of ammunition and took six lives: three nine-year-old students, Evelyn Dieckhaus; Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, and three school staff, Cynthia Peak; Katherine Koonce and Mike Hill. 

The following Wednesday on March 29, hundreds gathered with heavy hearts in Nashville’s Public Square Park for a candlelight vigil to mourn the lives lost at Covenant. Elected officials, including First Lady Jill Biden, musicians and faith leaders offered consoling words, prayers and songs to the victims’ families, survivors and to ‘a grieving city’, as reported in the Tennessean. 

Not only are those in Nashville grieving but as the story of The Covenant School becomes a part of the growing number of U.S. school shootings, an entire country grieves the loss of these innocent people.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2023 alone there have been over 130 mass shootings in the U.S., 13 of which have been at schools. Nashville teachers present at the vigil voiced serious concerns and fear for their students’ and their own emotional well-being, as gun violence becomes more common. “It’s very scary to be an educator right now,” Tia Billig, an ASL interpreter at Eakin Elementary, said at the vigil on March 29, according to the Tennessean. “It’s something you don’t want to have to prepare for, but unfortunately it’s something we prepare for very often.”

On March 30, Nashville citizens walked out in a March for Our Lives on the Tennessee Capitol, demanding something be done. Cries of “Gun Control Now” and the tune of “Lean on Me” can be heard from the demonstrators in the Tennessean’s broadcast of the March For Our Lives, as lawmakers headed into a House agenda hearing. Students across Nashville doubled down with this call for gun-control in a city-wide school walk out on April 3. According to the Tennesean, students descended on the capitol building a week following the shooting, standing outside demanding lawmakers to ‘do their jobs.’

According to CBC, Tennessee is more relaxed with gun control laws. There are some ownership restrictions for felons and violent criminals, as well as required background checks for purchasing firearms, but besides those there are few firearms restrictions in the state. CBC reports that many are supporting “red flag laws,” restricting firearms for those who pose a danger to themselves or others, as it was discovered that Hale was under doctoral supervision for emotional disturbances when he committed the shooting.

According to the Tennessean, during the House agenda hearing on March 30, chaos ensued on the floor as some Democratic lawmakers repeatedly asked to discuss gun reform and were ignored by their colleagues. As of April 5, Tennessee lawmakers have not reached an agreement on gun control laws.

As many across the country still grieve the lives lost, there are ways people can give direct support for the Covenant families and survivors. Multiple GoFundMe’s have been started and the Caring for Covenant Fund is open for anyone willing to donate, you can find those linked below.

Caring of Covenant Fund:

www.cfmt.org/covenant

List of GoFundMe’s:

Nashville School Shooting: How to Help (gofundme.com)