NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A group of Tennessee Republicans declared their intention to eradicate human trafficking in the state at a Tuesday press conference during a hotly contested special session that has received national attention.
The press conference, put on by the Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition, a conservative advocacy group, featured over a dozen Tennessee Republicans from both the state House and Senate and took place in the state’s old Supreme Court chamber in Nashville. The conference came as Left-leaning protesters showed up at the capitol this week to push for gun control.
The conference was held to discuss a bill dealing with mandating an annual report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and putting more awareness on the issue of human trafficking in the state.
“One of the things we have not done enough of, is drag this issue out into the light,” House Majority Leader William Lamberth said. “Have the TBI and law enforcement work together with the legislature to identify every single community where this is happening and then allocate needs towards that.”
The bill, SB 7088, has the support of Lamberth and Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Unlike many of the other bills that have been filed during the special session, it made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
“If you’re engaging in child and human sex trafficking in Tennessee, we’re coming after you. We’re going to war with you,” Johnson said.
Congressman Andy Ogles (R-TN) was also present and said that lawmakers had a biblical mandate to fight against trafficking.
According to a summary of the bill, it “requires the bureau to submit a report on child and human trafficking crimes and trends in this state, based upon data available to the bureau, as well as current programs and activities of the bureau’s human trafficking unit.”
“Human trafficking is the scourge of our time. It happens in our communities. It happens a mile from where we live. It happens even closer than that on certain occasions. We are dedicated to saving women and children and eradicating this scourge,” said Aaron Gulbransen, the executive director of the Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition.
According to TBI, there are up to 600 kids who go missing in Tennessee each month. Some of these are runaways or children in remarkably complex situations; others are trafficked.
The issue of human trafficking has come to forefront with the success of “Sound of Freedom,” the story of Tim Ballard (played by Jim Caviezel), a federal agent who quits his job to rescue a young girl from sex slavery in South America.
TBI previously told The Daily Wire that most children trafficked in Tennessee are not foreign nationals, but kids who were born and raised in the state.