Unsecured guns are getting into the hands of children in Tennessee, and a local group is trying to pass a law to stop it from happening.

“Last year Tennessee lead the entire country in the number of incidents involving children gaining access to a negligently stored firearm and pulling the trigger,” said Policy Director of the Safe Tennessee Project Beth Joslin Roth.

Last year, there were 33 incidents in Tennessee, 18 of them left children injured and 13 were fatal. So far this year there have been 13 incidents, six children injured and four deaths.

The latest death was 10-year-old Kaleigh Pennington. Kaleigh was accidentally shot by her twin brother while they were waiting in the car over the weekend.

“It’s incredibly frustrating because what we see is that states that have child access prevention laws see fewer of these types of incidents happening,” Roth said.

Which is why the Safe Tennessee Project is once again taking MaKayla's Law to the legislature.

“Simply telling the kid to not pick up the gun is not adequate,” Roth said.

The law would penalize gun owners that leave guns unlocked giving a child under 13 access, to pull the trigger and kill or injure someone or themselves.

“The goal with this type of legislation is not to punish a grieving family or to throw grieving parents in jail that’s really not the point of the legislation, it is to create a deterrent,” Roth said.

The bill has failed in the past, but some Nashville lawmakers hope this time around is different.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle, the gun lobby is very powerful and we have a lot of politicians who will simply cower to the gun lobby,” State Representative for House District 53 Jason Powell said. "MaKayla’s Law is a great first step in common sense legislation."

News 4 reached out to other representatives on both sides of the aisle to see how they would vote for the law, but at time of this story we are still waiting to hear back.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Brittany Weiner joined the News4 team as a reporter in July 2018.

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