Tennessee ranks among worst states for child and teen gun deaths

Posted at 5:40 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 19:11:47-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee ranks in the top five states in the country in firearm mortality rates for people younger than 19.

That was the message Safe Tennessee Project Policy Director Beth Joslin Roth wanted lawmakers and onlookers to know during a roundtable Tuesday morning.

The advocacy group collects gun death data and advocates for policy change at the state level. During the democratic lawmaker lead roundtable, top advocates for suicide prevention, domestic violence issues and suicide prevention all discussed how to stop gun violence.

Tennessee ranks fourth in overall firearm mortality rates for people younger than 19 and 12th in gun suicide deaths for that same age group.

"There is no one single answer. There is no one piece of legislation that's going to address this and stem the tide of this gun violence," said State Representative John Ray Clemmons. "I think Red Flag Laws, background checks. I think those types of things are supported by an overwhelming number of Tennesseans. I think as high as 89% of Tennesseans think we need background checks."

In attendance at the discussion were family members of Akilah DaSilva, one of four shooting victims from the Waffle House shooting a year and five months ago.

"I don't know much about issues and about policies and statistics. But, I know what the effects are of gun violence," said Shaundelle Brooks, DaSilva's mother. "I know how it has affected my family. I just want to see more urgency in fixing and dealing with gun violence."

Clemmons said he would like to see gun dispossession laws strengthened in the state. The law requires felons to surrender their guns to a third party who is allowed to accept them.