Boy, 12, is shot dead months after writing letter to governor saying he was worried new gun law may lead to murders

A BOY who wrote a letter to his governor saying he was concerned about new gun laws was shot to death by a stray bullet in his home.

Artemis Rayford, 12, was playing with his gifts on Christmas morning when he was hit with the bullet in his Tennessee home.


Just before going on winter break, Artemis wrote a letter to the state's governor Bill Lee, detailing his concerns that a law that went into effect in July 2021 would lead to more murders in the state, according to WREG.

The law in question allows people 21 and over to carry guns, both concealed and open, without a permit or safety training.

"I am a sixth-grader at Sherwood Middle School, and it is my opinion that this new law will be bad, and people will be murdered," Artemis wrote in his letter.

The boy's grandmother, Joyce Newson, told the outlet that he was a bright child, describing him as "the pack of the party. He made the party."

She said Artemis died in his mother's arms.

"When he got shot, the only thing he could do was run to his mama," she said. "It took her two days to wash the blood off her hands."

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Newson said shortly after her grandson was killed, his teacher showed them the letter he had penned, which had been intended for Governor Lee.

"I read this letter two of three times," Newson said.

The letter explains that Artemis was in the Memphis Police Department's Gang Resistance Education and Training program, which aims to discourage gang activity and violence among children.

He wrote that the group was discussing the effects the state's new gun laws would have.

Newson said that she hopes her grandson can inspire others to speak up for what they believe in and bring about positive change.

"A lot of people thinking that, ‘I got a gun in my house. I’m safe.’ But that’s not the case," she said.

"Because most of the time with them, who’s the one getting hurt? It’s the innocent one.

"They think these guns are going to save them but it’s really not. It’s got to be another solution besides using guns."

No arrests have been made yet in the child's death.

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