Nashville school shooting renews gun control push: 'How many more classrooms must become crime scenes?'

·3 min read

WASHINGTON–Six people are dead, including three children, after a school shooting in Nashville, and Republicans and Democrats are again at odds over gun control.

President Joe Biden is calling on lawmakers to pass an assault weapons ban – a request that faces a steep climb in a divided Congress where Republicans control the House and Democrats control the Senate. Even in a Democratic supermajority last year, it was tough for lawmakers to reform the nation's gun laws after the Uvalde school shooting.

"It's ripping our communities apart," Biden said of gun violence.

Democrats are joining the president in calling for action.

"How many more classrooms must become crime scenes before we take more action to end gun violence," said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

Republicans have been mostly silent.

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How many mass shootings have there been in 2023?

Children from The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., hold hands as they are taken to a reunification site at the Woodmont Baptist Church after a shooting at their school, on Monday March, 27, 2023.
Children from The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., hold hands as they are taken to a reunification site at the Woodmont Baptist Church after a shooting at their school, on Monday March, 27, 2023.

The shooting in Nashville Monday was the 129th mass shooting in the country so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

"The most likely reason a child would die in this country is because they were shot to death. THIS IS A POLICY FAILURE," Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., said on Twitter Monday.

Last week, Frost defended the father of a Parkland shooting victim who was arrested for disrupting a House hearing on gun laws.

More: Manuel Oliver, father of Parkland victim, arrested during heated House gun law hearing

What happened in Nashville today?

A heavily armed shooter allegedly entered a Christian elementary school in Nashville Monday morning and fatally shot six people – three children and three staff members – before being shot and killed by police, according to authorities.

The shooting happened at the Covenant School, where the assailant went into the building through a side door and was carrying at least two assault-style rifles and a handgun, according to Metro Nashville Police.

It was the deadliest school shooting since the attack in Uvalde, Texas, in May that killed 21 people, including 19 elementary school students and two teachers.

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Who are the Nashville victims?

Three students were killed in the Nashville school shooting: Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. They were all 9 years old, according to police.

Three Covenant School staff members were also killed: Mike Hill, 61; Katherine Koonce, 60; and Cynthia Peak, 61.

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Will Congress ban assault weapons?

A police scam scene tape is seen at the entrance to Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn. Monday, March 27, 2023. Officials say several children were killed in a shooting at the private Christian grade school in Nashville. The suspect is dead after a confrontation with police.
A police scam scene tape is seen at the entrance to Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn. Monday, March 27, 2023. Officials say several children were killed in a shooting at the private Christian grade school in Nashville. The suspect is dead after a confrontation with police.

Few Republicans have responded to the Nashville shooting. Some, like Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, have offered sympathy and prayers.

"Chuck and I are heartbroken to hear about the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville," she said in a statement. She added that her office is ready to assist federal, state and local officials, and she thanked first responders and offered prayers.

Meanwhile, Democrats are making a push for reform.

"We absolutely must take further action to address the gun violence crisis and keep our kids safe," said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said, "Congress must act."

But will they?

Action is highly unlikely in the Republican-led House, and prospects are slim in the Democratic-led Senate.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters he'd like to take up a bill to expand background checks, but said, "I'm a realist."

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., has led the push for reform and continued Monday in calling for tighter gun laws, saying there's evidence it works.

"Mass shootings dropped significantly when the 1994 ban went into effect, and then spiked when the ban expired," he said.

Candy Woodall is a Congress reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at cwoodall@usatoday.com or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nashville school shooting renews gun control debate in Congress