Would safe storage laws help prevent accidental shootings?

LEBANON, Tenn. (WKRN) – Lebanon police are still investigating how and why a 10-year-old boy shot himself Friday. Investigators told News 2 they still need to interview the boy, who is in good condition at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

News 2 reached out to the Wilson County District Attorney to see if the parents could be charged. Assistant District Attorney Justin Harris said it’s too soon to tell, but in other accidental shooting cases a parent might be charged with child abuse or reckless endangerment.

The Safe Tennessee Project says the laws surrounding accidental shootings land in a gray area. Their group tried to help pass MaKayla’s Law this legislative session but it was shot down by lawmakers the first week of March.

“It’s not our objective to throw a bunch of parents in jail,” said Safe Tennessee’s policy director Beth Joslyn Roth. “It’s to create a deterrent, much the same way drunk driving laws create a deterrent.”

According to SmartGunLaws.org, 14 states plus the District of Columbia have safe storage laws in place. In those states, the site says accidental shootings have dropped.

“It’s the same thing we’re trying to do with MaKayla’s law,” said Roth, who will bring push for the law next year. “We’re trying to reduce the number of children who are injured and killed in these very preventable tragedies.”

In a recent study by Johns Hopkins University, Tennessee is one of seven states with a disproportionately high rate of accidental shootings.

All seven states don’t have safe storage laws. Roth says that isn’t a coincidence.

News 2 reached out to the seven lawmakers who shot down MaKayla’s Law but they didn’t get back to us in time for our report.

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