NASHVILLE - A state House panel killed legislation today that would have made it a crime for adults to have unlocked loaded guns accessible to children.
On a 7-2, party-line vote, Republicans on the House Civil Justice Committee voted down the bill, named MaKayla's law after an 8-year-old Jefferson County girl killed by an 11-year-old boy using his father's shotgun.
Earlier this week, the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) issued an "alert" denouncing the bill which would have created an offense of recklessly leaving a loaded firearm unattended and readily accessible to a child under age 13.
Calling the law "unnecessary and uneforceable," the NRA's political and lobbying arm said that "if anti-gun legislators were serious about keeping kids safe, they would know that the key to reducing firearm accidents isn't about prosecuting after the fact, it's about educating children and parents about the safe use of firearms.
"For that reason," the alert says, "the National Rifle Association developed the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® accident prevention program that teaches children to "STOP, DON'T TOUCH, RUN AWAY and TELL A GROWN-UP."
While adults currently can be charged with reckless endangerment, Jefferson County authorities never charged the father of the 11-year-old boy.
Proponents of the bill have previously cited last month's accidental shooting death of a 3-year-old toddler in Hamilton County as an argument for the MaKayla's Law.
Hamilton County authorities later charged Kelly Pitman, the mother of the 3-year-old boy who accidentally shot and killed himself with a gun she left in her vehicle, with criminally negligent homicide.
Her son, Gavin Pittman, shot himself in the face with a .380-caliber pistol.