Boy Who Wrote Letter About Guns and Murder Is Shot Dead

12-year-old criticized Tennessee's permitless gun law
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2022 2:36 PM CST
Boy Who Wrote Governor About Guns and Murder Shot Dead
   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – In one of his classes at a Memphis middle school, 12-year-old Artemis Rayford wrote a letter to Tennessee's governor about a new state law that allows those 21 and up to carry a gun without training or a permit. "It is my opinion that this new law will be bad, and people will be murdered," wrote the Sherwood Middle School student to Gov. Bill Lee. Death by bullet was a fate that would befall Artemis himself. The boy was killed by a stray bullet that hit him as he was playing a new video game on Christmas morning. "When he got shot, the only thing he could do was run to his mama," his grandmother tells WREG. "It took her two days to wash the blood off her hands." No arrests have been made.

In the wake of his death, his teacher sent his mother the letter he had written. In it, he explains he had participated in a discussion about the law's impact as part of the Memphis Police Department's Gang Resistance Education and Training program that he had joined. His grandmother tells Fox 13 her take on what transpired: "Somebody got into it at the store and the man came back. He ran across people's yards trying to get away from the gunmen and the bullet shot her [Artemis' mother] house and the house next door." She thinks it's possible Artemis stopped playing games and headed toward the door to see what was happening; he was shot in the chest. "He wrote this letter not even knowing that he was going to be killed by the gun," she says. The Washington Post notes it's unclear if the letter was ever mailed to Lee. (Read more Tennessee stories.)

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