Memphis 12-Year-Old Shot Dead After Writing Letter To Gov. About Gun Law


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Before winter break, a Black 12-year-old from Memphis penned a letter to the Tennessee governor, expressing his concern of the state's new gun law.

On Christmas morning that middle schooler was shot dead after getting struck by a stray bullet while playing with presents in his family's home.

"I am a sixth grader at Sherwood Middle School and it is my opinion that this new gun law will be bad and people will be murdered and I think people should not have a gun," 12-year-old Artemis Rayford wrote in a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

When Artemis' teachers found out about his death, they sent a photo of the letter he wrote to Lee to the middle schooler's family. Joyce Newson, the boy's grandmother, told WREG that she read the letter "two or three times."

"He wrote this letter not even knowing that he was going to be killed by the gun," Newson said.

Last July, Gov. Lee put in a place a new law that allows virtually any adult to carry a gun –– open or concealed –– without having a permit. Even law enforcement expressed concerned over the legislation.

"A person just walking down the street is not a call we can answer, because we can't even question that person about the weapon, according to this new law," Tennessee Sheriff Floyd Bonner said last year after the law went into effect.

Artemis' grandmother told The Washington Post she hopes Gov. Lee would see the letter on the news, but so far he "hasn't reached out."

"That's why it's only going to be thrown up under the rug," she said.

In 2021, Memphis saw a record 346 homicides, with 31 children being among the deceased. An estimated 150 children were treated for gunshot wounds that year, local news outlets reported.

Artemis was laid to rest on January 8, 2022.

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