Senate Bill 2294 to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, relative to access to firearms by certain people also known by the short title of “MaKayla’s Law” was an example of a bill that on first look seemed palatable. I mean, nobody wants to allow kids without any training or moral compass access to guns, right? But the wording was so general that it was a very tempting tool for a prosecutor with a political urge to abuse.
IANAL and that mean it is my interpretation and not to be taken as legal advice but just based on what I have seen prosecutors do before.
“It is an offense for a person to recklessly place, leave, or store a firearm in a location that is in plain view and readily accessible to a child under thirteen (13) years of age if..”
Right of the bat, this language is dangerous. It is not a Parent or Guardian but basically anybody in the State of Tennessee can be prosecuted to have a weapon on the open even when nothing happens. It goes on and gets worse.
…if the firearm: (1) (A) Is placed or stored for any period of time in a location in which the firearm is not immediately available to the owner or possessor of the firearm; or (B) Is temporarily left unattended by the owner or possessor of the firearm for any period of time; and (2) Contains ammunition in the clip, magazine, or chamber, or ammunition for the unattended firearm is in the immediate vicinity of the firearm.
Youth Hunting programs, Scholastic Shooting programs, Boy Scouts small bore, Rimfire Challenge or any activity where kids 13 and younger participate would be prime temptation for prosecution of the adults in charge and the sports would disappear as adult would want to be prosecuted for breaking the overreaching law.
There are a couple of “exceptions” to the law which do nothing more than force you to lock your guns and ammo in a safe even when you don’t have kids. You see, the law does not make exceptions if your house or vehicle is broken into and a kid under 13 gains access to the gun directly or indirectly: If somebody stole your gun from the trunk of your car and gave it to the minor, you are responsible.
What rubs me wrong is that there are states with Safe Storage laws which make sense and that the “honorable” senators from Tennessee could have copied and even improved. Florida’s 790.174 is an example if for nothing more than this little sentence:
This subsection does not apply if the minor obtains the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by any person.
The case of MaKayla Dyer is indeed sad but this bill was just an abuse of power waiting to happen.