▶ Watch Video: Second ousted Tennessee lawmaker, Justin Pearson, reappointed

President Biden will meet with a trio of Tennessee lawmakers who faced expulsion votes from the state legislature after they joined a protest demanding action on gun control on the House floor, the White House announced Wednesday.

Democratic Representatives Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson — collectively known as the “Tennessee Three” — joined a group of protesters at the state capitol following the shooting at a private school in Nashville that left three children and three adults dead. 

“I’m pleased to share that the president looks forward to welcoming Tennessee state Representative Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson to the White House this coming Monday,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at Wednesday’s White House press briefing. Jean-Pierre said that the president had already spoken with the three lawmakers following their expulsion votes earlier this month.

From left, Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, and expelled Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville raise their fists as they walk across Fisk University campus after hearing Vice President Kamala Harris speak, Friday, April 7, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. Harris came to support the two Democratic lawmakers, who were expelled from the Tennessee State Legislature.

George Walker IV / AP

“The president thanked them for their leadership in seeking to ban assault weapons and standing up for democratic values, and the three lawmakers thanked the president for his leadership on gun safety and for spotlighting the undemocratic and unprecedented attacks on them in a Tennessee state House,” she said.

On April 6, the Republican-controlled state House held separate votes on whether to expel the “Tennessee Three” from their elected positions. Jones and Pearson, both of whom are Black, were ousted from their roles, while Johnson, who is White, was allowed to remain in Tennessee General Assembly after surviving by a single vote.

Less than a week later, Jones and Pearson were both unanimously reinstated on an interim basis by the Nashville Metro Council and Shelby County Commission respectively. Special elections will be held to formally fill the seats for the remainder of the terms, and both Jones and Pearson have indicated they intend to run again.

Despite the contentious response to their public support of gun control, Jones and Pearson have continued to advocate for stricter gun laws in Tennessee, even bringing an infant-sized casket to the Tennessee Capitol on Wednesday. 

Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, carries a casket through the halls of the state Capitol with Rev. William J. Barber, right, Monday, April 17, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.

George Walker IV / AP

“The president has been very clear about how important it is to take the next steps when it comes to gun reform, and he saw these three legislators as taking that next step when calling for our assault weapons ban,” said Jean-Pierre, adding that Mr. Biden was “proud” and “appreciative” of the lawmakers’ efforts.

Assault weapons are “killing our communities,” added Jean-Pierre, saying that “weapons of war should not be on the streets.”