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Tennessee House toughens penalties for mass threats as Covenant School shooting anniversary arrives

Nearly a year after a person shot through the doorways of The Covenant School in Nashville’s Green Hills neighborhood and killed six people, the House passed legislation Monday setting stricter penalties for threats of mass violence.

The measure sponsored by Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, increases the penalty for threatening to commit mass violence on school property or at school-related events to a Class E felony from a Class A misdemeanor.

Mitchell received a unanimous vote amid bipartisan co-sponsorship from Republicans such as House Speaker Cameron Sexton, Reps. Ed Butler, Clay Doggett and Curtis Johnson and Democratic Reps. Caleb Hemmer, Jason Powell and Darren Jernigan.

The measure, which passed without debate, does not apply to people with mental disabilities. It passed two days short of the one-year anniversary of The Covenant School shooting in which three 9-year-old students died.

The Senate version of the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Jon Lundberg is set to start moving in committees Tuesday.

This story was originally published by the Tennessee Lookout.

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor with the Tennessee Lookout, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.
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