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Mother of 8-year-old killed by neighbor boy supports safe gun storage bill dubbed "MaKayla's Law"

A mother whose daughter was killed by a neighbor boy in a White Pine shooting is throwing her support to a bill that would make it a crime to have guns easily accessed by children.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis and Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, would make it a crime to “recklessly place, leave or store a firearm in a location that is in plain view and readily accessible to a child” under the age of 13.

LaTasha Dyer’s daughter MaKayla was killed by an 11-year-old neighbor back in October of 2015. She held a press conference Tuesday morning with Sen. Kyle in support of the bill.

"As a mom I never thought I would outlive one of my children, but last year my 8-year-old daughter, MaKayla Dyer was killed by our neighbor. She wouldn't show him her puppy,” said Dyer. “Our family is devastated by this avoidable tragedy. If the weapon had simply been locked away and left unloaded, MaKayla would still be here.”

State Reps. Sherry Jones, left, and Beth Joslin Roth and Sen. Sara Kyle on Thursday called for the necessity to pass child access prevention laws to reduce shootings and deaths in the state. (Photo: The Tennessean) 

At the Senate Judicial Committee hearing, Sen. Kyle said she doesn't believe this law will prevent every tragedy, but placing a criminal consequence into law for negligent gun owners would make parents think twice before making a deadly mistake.

"This law will mean more parents or gun owners will think about how they store their guns and the consequences of leaving them available to children," Sen. Kyle said.

Lawmakers questioning the bill had concerns that the parents could already be prosecuted with a reckless endangerment charge, and that this kind of legislation might give the state too much power to prosecute a person in their own home.

MaKayla died Oct. 3 after the boy shot her in the chest with a 12-gauge single-shot shotgun, according to authorities. She attended second grade at White Pine Elementary School.

RELATED: Judge finds boy delinquent in White Pine killing of 8-year-old girl

A Jefferson County judge found the White Pine boy, Benny Nicolas Tiller, 11, delinquent last month in the fatal shooting. Sources told 10News the boy was sentenced to state custody until he turns 19.

The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Civil Justice Subcommittee both deferred action on the bill for two weeks.