NASVHILLE, Tenn. — More than 25 people from Memphis testified at the State Capitol in Nashville for tougher penalties for drive-by and road rage shootings.
Two state lawmakers introduced the “Community Terrorism” bill following the deaths of Ashlynn Luckett, Jadon Knox and Lequan Boyd last month.
Now that bill is one step closer to a full house vote.
Several Memphis mothers and fathers with Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives traveled to the Capitol for the House judiciary committee meeting on Wednesday. Several of their own children were murdered.
This was the only time in the legislative process for public comment so these families wanted to share their stories for lawmakers about why this bill means so much to them and the city of Memphis.
Representatives G.A. Hardaway and Jesse Chism stood by side by side with those families Wednesday afternoon during a press conference.
Hardaway told FOX13, “the citizens are tired of seeing the blood of our children running in the streets. now is the time to put a deterrent in place that we’re not going to tolerant if you’re going to commit these heinous crimes we’ll make sure that you pay a price.”
This bill could impact shootings that happen from a car into another car, into a home or a crowd of people.
It would add a $5,000-10,000 fine and revoke a person’s driver’s license once they’re convicted and last up to five years after they complete their sentence.
The bill would establish “Community Terrorism" as an offense for crimes related to gang activity and would double the classification severity for crimes. For example a class C felony would become a class A felony.
The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bill. Hardaway said it is now headed to the finance committee.
He explained that the finance committee will discuss how to handle those increased costs for incarceration.
Sharon Martin, with Freedom from Unnecessary Negatives, told FOX13 she’s still fighting for justice after her son, Antonio, was shot and killed during a robbery in 1997.
“We’re all a village, we’re all in this together, everyone done lost a child,” Martin said.
When asked if she though this bill would deter crime and make people think twice before picking up a gun, Sharon responded, “yes I really do, I really do. We need to pass a bill for the bullets. if they stop selling bullets like they do we wouldn’t have any guns that would be better too.”
Representatives Hardaway and Chism were grateful for the people that traveled from Memphis to support the legislation. They said it will send a powerful message to the state.
“This bill is our line in the sand saying hey we’re not continue to bury our babies, we’re not going to continue to have people doing drive-bys in our neighbors, we’re not going to continue to have needless deaths where families have to put together funerals for their children,” Chism said.
FOX13 reached out to Governor Bill Lee’s office about this proposed legislation. His office said he holds off from commenting on individual bills until they are closer to his desk.
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