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‘People will be murdered’: Boy who wrote to governor about gun law killed in shooting | KTA

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) – Artemis Rayford was 12 when he wrote a letter last year to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee expressing concern about a new state law that allows most adults to wear legally a firearm without a license.

“I’m in sixth grade at Sherwood Middle School, and I think this new law will be bad and people will be murdered,” Artemis wrote to the governor.

His prediction came true. Artemis was murdered on Christmas morning when Memphis police say a stray bullet took his life.

Artemis Rayford (family photo)

Joyce Newson says her grandson, whom she called ‘Shun’, was inside her home, playing with her Christmas presents, when the bullets broke the peace. He was a bright kid with a bright future.

“I have a lot of grandkids, but Shun was the party pack. He partied,” Newson said.

She said her grandson died in his mother’s arms.

“When he got shot, the only thing he could do was run to his mom,” Newson said. “It took him two days to wash the blood off his hands.”

Artemis was buried on January 8. A few days before her funeral, her family received this letter from her teacher – written by Artemis and addressed to Governor Bill Lee.

“I’ve read this letter or two or three times,” Newson said.

Read Artemis Rayford’s letter to Governor Bill Lee

In the letter, Artemis tells Governor Lee that he is participating in the Memphis Police Department’s Gang Resistance Education and Training Program, a program dedicated to deterring gang activity and violence among children.

He says they were discussing the effects of the state law on carrying handguns without a license.

“He wrote that letter not even knowing he was going to be killed by a gun,” Newson said.

Under the law, which went into effect July 1, 2021, anyone 21 and older and service members over 18 are allowed to carry a weapon, concealed or open, without safety training or a license.

Although the law also increases penalties for gun-related crimes, it has been heavily criticized by law enforcement, including the Memphis police and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

“A person walking down the street is not a call we can answer, because we can’t even ask that person about the weapon, under this new law,” Sheriff Floyd Bonner said last year during entry into force of the law.

Memphis Deputy Police Chief Don Crowe said his department was concerned about “unintended consequences.”

However, Governor Lee remained firm.

“We can protect law enforcement; we can protect our citizens and we can protect the 2nd Amendment at the same time,” Lee said last year.

In 2021, the city of Memphis hit a record 346 homicides, 31 of them involving children. According to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital, 156 children were treated for gunshot wounds.

This year is already off to a bad start in Memphis. Less than three weeks after Artemis’ death, 2-year-old Charvez Akins was shot and killed.

Newson says she hopes her grandson’s letter inspires the change needed to finally end gun violence.

“A lot of people think, ‘I have a gun in my house, I’m safe.’ But that’s not the case, because a lot of the time with them, who’s the one that gets hurt? It’s the innocent,” Newson said. “They think those guns are going to save them, but that’s not the case. is really not the case. It must be an alternative to the use of firearms.

So far, no arrests have been made in the death of Artemis Rayford.

‘People will be murdered’: Boy who wrote to governor about gun law killed in shooting | KTA

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