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Sandy Hook Promise Statement on Tennessee Bill Passed Tuesday

NEWTOWN, Conn — On Tuesday, the Tennessee legislature passed a bill that would allow teachers and school staff members to carry concealed handguns in schools. This decision comes just over a year since six students and staff members were killed at the Covenant School in Nashville, the deadliest school shooting in the state’s history, and follows a yearlong grassroots movement led by Covenant families to advocate for safer schools. 

At Sandy Hook Promise we stand for the safety and wellbeing of students. All students deserve safe, welcoming, supportive school environments where they can learn and thrive without fear. No parent should send his or her child to school and worry that the child may never come home. However, arming teachers is not the solution. While we are dismayed that Tennessee state legislators voted in favor, this development cannot be the end of our collective efforts to prevent gun violence. We urge lawmakers and advocates to prioritize implementing evidence-based prevention policies that are proven to end this enduring crisis, rather than those currently lacking evidence to support them. 

“After the tragedy at Covenant School last year, we have continued to call on Tennessee’s elected officials to pass legislation that will prevent future school shootings and ensure no other families have to suffer this unimaginable heartbreak. Following Tuesday’s decision, we are disappointed, but will continue our efforts to find common ground on sensible gun violence prevention solutions,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. “We stand in solidarity with the parents and loved ones of those who senselessly lost their lives, who have advocated tirelessly for meaningful policy solutions. This is not the best Tennessee can do.” 

It is imperative that Tennessee’s elected officials prioritize proven policy solutions that keep kids safe, including implementing an emergency framework for individuals in crisis to temporarily transfer firearms for storage outside the home. This alone will save lives in Tennessee, while protecting 2nd Amendment rights. Elected officials should also take action to ensure more students have access to proven student violence prevention programs in schools, such as Sandy Hook Promise’s Know the Signs. These initiatives empower students and adults to know the warning signs of violence and be active participants in creating safer schools and communities, free from gun violence.

Since 2013, Over 22 million people have participated in the Know the Signs programs which teach students the warning signs of violence and how to respond. To date, this programming has resulted in at least 653 lives saved and 16 credible planned school shootings averted.

Sandy Hook Promise has also been advancing sensible bipartisan policy solutions that save lives and prevent school shootings, including the recent improvement of the firearm background check system. 


The Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund (SHPAF) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization committed to protecting all children from gun violence in schools, homes, and communities. The SHP Action Fund advances a holistic policy platform that promotes gun safety, youth mental health, and violence prevention education. The organization works at the state and federal level to pass nonpartisan legislation through inclusive partnerships, diverse grassroots education, and community mobilization. It is part of Sandy Hook Promise, founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

Media Contact: 

Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579