Parents could be punished for leaving gun out for child to find

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — A tragedy Shelby County has seen too many times: a child finds a loaded gun in their home and pulls the trigger.

Now, State Senator Sara Kyle (D-Memphis) wants the parent to be held accountable.

She helped draw up legislation that would parents could face felony charges if they leave a loaded gun “unattended and readily accessible to a child under 13 years of age.”

“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 District Attorney Amy Weirich.

She said that’s not the case though which is why she hopes this bill passes.

“As you know, we’ve had many cases within this office, within Shelby County,” she said.

Just last summer, a four-year-old found a gun in his Shelby County home, pulled the trigger and killed himself.

He’s one of 25 children in Tennessee involved in a shooting in 2015. Ten children died. Most of the incidents were preventable.

“Anybody who owns a firearm should be aware of the power of that firearm,” said Will Bass who is the general manager at Accent Guns and Loans on Summer.

Bass said responsibility comes with owning a gun.

“Leave it in the hands of a child or the reach of a child and suffer the consequences,” he said.

27 states already have similar legislation. Some parents were surprised Tennessee wasn’t one of them.

“It stuns me that parents wouldn’t be held responsible for putting their child in harm’s way,” said parent Clif Massey.

The bill will face the Senate Judiciary Committee March 1.

WREG reached out to local Senators Sara Kyle, Brian Kelsey and Mark Norris, but never heard back.

So far, the Tennessee Firearms Association is the only group to speak out about this bill saying they don’t like the wording.

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