Six months after a random bullet hit and killed 7-year-old Brendon Mackey, his mother, Marie Harris says her eyes have been opened.
"People, I think, underestimate the power of a gun," Harris said. "They use it very recklessly nowadays."
This year, there could be a change thanks to a bill that passed a major hurdle in the General Assembly, and will next go to the full Senate. It is an effort sponsored by Sen. Henry Marsh. His bill, named after Brendon, increases the punishment for deadly celebratory gunfire to between 5 to 40 years in prison.
Harris, is not sure how she feels about the minimum sentence.
"Five years, might be about the time the person would get for my son's incident," Harris said. "So starting at five years, I don't think is enough."
Marsh says judges across Virginia will have wide discretion, and could sentence more than five years, should they choose. Critics say the bill reaches too far, since celebratory gunfire would only be permitted if you're more than two miles away from an occupied building.
Marsh responded saying, "...It's not Republican, it's not Democrat, black or white. The bullet doesn't know the identity of the victim. This is an equally serious problem in Church Hill as it is in Brandermill."
"There were 5,000 people there that night," Harris said, referring to the night her son was hit. "And out of those 5,000 everyone says it's not going to be me. But, it has to be someone, you know? And it just happened to be him."
There is still no arrest in the case, and no suspect for who fired the shot that killed Brendon. Harris says she is glad this will keep her son's memory alive, but there is still sadness.
"I mean, honoring my son, I think it's wonderful," Harris said. "But, of course, I would rather have my son back than this law... More than anything."
Thursday, August 28 2014 4:16 PM EDT2014-08-28 20:16:44 GMT
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