Shooting Victim's MotherSupports Gun Safety Law

Posted at 6:47 PM, Mar 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-01 20:13:16-05

The mother of a an 8-year-old killed in a shooting has visited Capitol Hill to support a new law created for and named after her daughter.

The tragic death of the East Tennessee girl, MaKayla Dyer, has prompted state lawmakers to take a look at gun safety laws.

The child's mother visited Nashville this week as state lawmakers began debating a proposal named after her.

LaTasha Dyer said her daughter would still be alive had the gun used to shoot her been locked up and stored properly.

In her case, the proposed legislation would have resulted in the owner of the gun being charged with a Class C Felony. That's 3 to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Last year, Tennesseans watched a crime scene play out more than two dozen times in neighborhoods all over the state. Blue lights and yellow crime scene tape marked the neighborhood where 8-year-old MaKayla Dyer was killed.

Dyer was shot by an 11-year-old neighbor because she wouldn't show him her puppy.

LaTasha Dyer said, "As a mom I never thought I'd outlive one of my children, but last year my 8-year-old daughter MaKayla was killed by a neighbor."

Tuesday,  MaKayla Dyer's mother came to Legislative Plaza to support a gun safety bill. The legislation sponsored by Senator Sara Kyle was called MaKayla's Law.

The proposal would criminally punish anyone who leaves a firearm unattended around children 13-years-old or younger.

LaTasha Dyer said, "Our family is devastated by this avoidable tragedy if the weapon had simply been locked away MaKayla would still be here."

Last year MaKayla and at least two dozen children in Tennessee were injured by someone using a gun. In most cases they were accidents, but ten times the result was death.

Beth Joslin Roth of Safe Tennessee Project said, "Tennessee is 9th in the country for accidental shootings.  We're called out in national studies on accidental shootings, especially those that cut short young lives. We can do better and that's why we're here today."

Senator Kyle said the intent of her bill was to encourage parents and other gun owners to safely store their weapons.

Senator Kyle said, "An analysis of these tragic deaths show that they are often one hundred percent preventable had the gun been stored safely.  Safe storage saves lives."
Not everyone is a fan of the bill as it is written.

John Harris with the Tenneesee Firearms Association has seen some flaws in it. Harris said he doesn't like the way it was worded and it could pose a problem for off duty police officers.