On Friday afternoon in Memphis, an 11-year-old little girl was accidentally shot by a friend who was playing with a gun. As of this morning, she remains in critical condition. The shooting in Memphis came less than a week after the last accidental shooting involving a child. On March 19th, a 14-year-old Nashville boy was injured after unintentionally shooting himself. On Tuesday, in a vote straight down party lines, the House Civil Justice Committee voted against passing MaKayla’s Law.
“Another child with access to a loaded gun, another child accidentally shot,” said Beth Joslin Roth, policy director of The Safe Tennessee Project. “There were two incidents in the same week legislators voted against MaKayla’s Law. The frequency of these shootings and the fact our lawmakers choose to do absolutely nothing to address them is just astonishing. Reports say this little girl was severely injured. We pray she will be OK and will fully recover.”
Members of the House Civil Justice Committee met in a closed-to-the-press pre-meeting on Monday afternoon and decided to kill the bill. In the public committee hearing on Tuesday, not a single member voting “NO” offered a reason for their vote. Pressed by reporters later, committee co-chair Jon Lundberg said “We might fix it with this situation but at the same time create 15 to 20 situations where someone who is the potential victim of a home invasion can’t get to a gun, can’t get a trigger lock opened, and things are going on and they are killed.”
“Legislators offered a litany of possible, hypothetical scenarios as reasons for voting against MaKayla’s Law,” said Roth. “But, they ignore the tragic list of real-life incidents where Tennessee kids were actually injured or killed – a shameful 31 in the 15 months we’ve been tracking them, including two in the very week they voted against MaKayla’s Law.”
As amended, MaKayla’s Law would have charged careless gun owners with a felony only in situations where an irresponsibly stored gun was discharged by a child under 13, injuring or killing the child or another person. The amendment, which made significant changes to the original bill and was adopted by the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, was never addressed by the NRA.
Going forward, The Safe Tennessee Project will be sending out press releases every time a Tennessee child is injured or killed as a result of an irresponsibly stored gun. We will also note the number children injured and killed so far this year and since we began tracking these incidents in January 2015.
KIDS WITH ACCESS TO GUNS – BY THE NUMBERS
Since January 2015
Total incidents: 31
Since January 2016
Total incidents: 7
HOUSE CIVIL JUSTICE MEMBERS WHO VOTED AGAINST MAKAYLA’S LAW
Rep. Jim Coley
Rep. Mike Carter
Rep. Jon Lundberg
Rep. Martin Daniel
Rep. John Forgerty
Rep. Jamie Jenkins
Rep. Courtney Rogers