Bill Aims Keep Guns Out Of Childrens' Hands

Posted at 6:21 PM, Feb 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 19:43:12-05

A bill has been introduced into legislature named after an child who was shot and killed in East Tennessee by another child with his father's gun.

The numbers don't lie. In 2015 Tennessee saw 25 injuries involving children and guns. Most of them were accidents, ten of which ended in the death of a child.

"We need to do as much as we can to be sure that we need to protect the innocent from all of these accidental shootings that will occur," one of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Sherry Jones said. 

Action has come in the form a new law that will criminally penalize anyone who leaves a firearm unattended around children 13-years-old or younger.

"The point is not to fill our prisons with irresponsible parents just like our DUI laws are meant not to fill prisons with irresponsible drinkers," bill sponsor, Sen. Sara Kyle said. 

Kyle and Jones hoped the bill acts as a deterrent. "Safe storage saves lives and it would've saved those lives," said Jones. 

The bill was named after MaKayla Dyer, an 8-year-old who was shot and killed by an 11-year-old after she refused to let him see her puppy. The boy retrieved his father's gun, which was not locked up, and shot her.

"They feel very strongly that the father who left the loaded gun where the 11-year-old could find it should be held accountable for that," said Beth Ross with the Safe Tennessee Project. 

In middle Tennessee 5-year-old Andrew Turner was shot and killed by his sibling. Just moments before the laser on the gun that killed him was being used to entertain a family pet. Under this proposed law that gun owner would be charged.

"For these families, these losses last forever," explained Ross. 

However, not everyone was a fan of the bill. John Harris with the Tennessee Firearms Association sees some flaws in it. He said he doesn't like the way its worded and it could pose a problem for off duty officers.