Tennessee State Assemblyman Justin Jones (D) declared that Americans “don’t have to live like this” and on Saturday slammed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as “stupid” after a deadly shooting in a Jacksonville store, which a local sheriff described as a “racially motivated” attack.
The comments from Jones, one of the two black members of the “Tennessee Three,” come after a white man shot dead three black people and then killed himself at a Dollar General store in a mostly black neighborhood on Saturday.
“To see three precious black people take their lives in a state where a stupid governor attacks black people, attacks black history, and people make excuses that it’s not a gun problem even though he had an AR-15. I mean, other nations have hatred, but we’re the only nation that continues to carry out mass shootings because of political decisions,” Jones told CNN’s Jim Acosta.
“And we don’t have to live like this anymore, we don’t have to live like this anymore.”
Jones’ comments were aimed at the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, who has advocated a prohibited concealed carry law criticized by Democrats and gun safety advocates.
The Democrat was kicked out of the Republican-led Tennessee state legislature in April for joining protesters in support of gun control efforts in chanting after six people were killed in a Nashville school shooting.
Jones on Saturday continued to call for a country free of “fear”, “terror and trauma”.
“Whether it’s a school — a private school in Nashville — or a Dollar General in Jacksonville, Florida, this terrorism that we live under is a political choice that we made to protect extremists, gun extremists in the gun lobby, and that’s what we have to do. Call it what it is,” he said.
Jones, who recently won back his seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives along with Rep. Justin Pearson (D), also urged Americans not to take “thoughts and prayers” from Florida politicians in the wake of the shooting.
“I want to say to the people of America, don’t accept the thoughts and prayers of one of those politicians in Florida who allowed this gun proliferation in their community,” he said.
“This is unacceptable. We must hold them accountable.”
He found that thousands have appeared traveled to his state capital this week to call for “action against sane gun laws,” which he described as “a moral issue of right and wrong.”