Tennessee is about begin a discussion concerning children and loaded guns. A new measure is moving through the legislature that would make parents liable for leaving loaded guns in areas that are accessible to kids. The purpose of the bill is to stop accidental shootings among children.
Parent Herald writes that the hope is that Tennessee parents will be more responsible in the way they handle and store their guns once the new law is passed. Parents found to be in violation of the proposed law could face criminal charges.
Roughly 27 states have already passed similar laws, and Tennessee is set to send the bill to the Senate in March. Sen. Sara Kyle (D – Memphis) and Rep. Sherry Jones (D – Nashville) are the sponsors of the measure and are dedicated to putting a stop to loaded guns being accessible to children 13-years-old and younger.
District Attorney Amy Weirich says the bill will be helpful in preventing accidents that take place because minors get curious about their parents' guns and rifles.
"In an ideal situation, it wouldn't take legislation to stress the importance of being a responsible gun owner and doing all that a parent can do to keep their children safe," said Weirich.
She added that Shelby County had 24 cases of children accidentally firing guns that resulted in 10 deaths. Had parents been responsible regarding storage and safety surrounding their firearms, these tragedies could have been prevented.
But Bob Owens, editor of BearingArms.com, says none of the firearm prohibitionist groups who preach "gun safety," such as the Violence Policy Center and the Brady Campaign, actually offer gun safety training courses. They do, however, says Owens, instill significant anger and ignorance. He added that "ignorance kills."
Owens pointed to an experiment set up by Texas police officers that entailed putting an unloaded gun in a room along with eight children. Most of the kids picked the gun up, pretended to shoot it, and passed the firearm around.
But the children in the room who had been taught the dangers and responsibilities of owning a gun did not touch the weapon. When children know that guns are not toys and are taught from an early age to respect firearms, they know that guns should not be touched unless a responsible adult present and safety precautions have been made, he says.
Owens says that between approximately one-third and two-thirds of the homes that kids visit will have guns in them, and some of the owners of those homes will not have weapons stored safely.
The training and education of young people are the only things that can protect them when they come upon an unsecured firearm, suggests Owens. He says the place to go to get that type of training is the National Rifle Association (NRA) or the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
The Tennessee bill is named "MaKayla's Law" after a Jefferson County, Tennessee girl, McKayla Dyer, who was killed by a neighbor who had his father's shotgun. The boy was 11-years-old.
Senate Bill 2294/House Bill 2058 is heading for review on Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee and will move to the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on Wednesday, according to Richard Locker of the Knoxville News Sentinel.
"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," Jones said.
Kyle noted that the point was not to fill state prisons with irresponsible parents. The reason for the bill was to create a deterrent so that no more children will accidentally be killed or kill someone else.