Family of BB gun victim hopes proposed bill will save lives

CHARLESTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – Deven Free, 13, died just over a year after his family said he was hit by a BB gun while playing outside with other boys at a trailer park.

His aunt Lisa Shirley said they hope no other family has to suffer what they are going through.

“It’s like grieving again. We grieved for a year and adjusted to our new lifestyle,” Shirley said, referring to Deven being in hospice care for the period. “Now we’re back here, adjusting to a new lifestyle, and it’s hard.”

Three months after his deathShirley told News 8 they still don’t have his death certificate or the results of the preliminary autopsy.

“We don’t want anyone to end up like us. We don’t want anyone else to feel what we’re feeling,” Shirley said.

While still waiting for answers, the family also wants to take action to prevent another tragedy.

Rep. Julie Rogers, D-Kalamazoo, recently introduced a bill, HB 6447, that would restore a state requirement for parents to keep a minor who uses or possesses a pneumatic weapon, such as a BB gun, outside of their home or yard to accompany.

The penalty was previously a misdemeanor HB 4151 lifted it in 2015. If Rogers’ bill goes through, it would be a civil violation instead.

She explained that safety and prevention are key factors in formulating legislation.

“I think adult supervision and adult judgment are really critical here. While I and my collaborators were researching this, I believe over 90% of the injuries were in young people with these types of weapons or because there was no adult around,” Rogers said. “(It) just goes to show that these guns are serious, if you will.”

Shirley says this is a step to help with the storytelling the story of her nephewespecially if it prevents someone else from ending too soon.

“If we could save one person – just one person – devens Name would be remembered,” Shirley said. “If they even called it Deven’s Law, that would be even better.”

Rogers says the bill has yet to be in committee, but that step is expected to be reached later this month.

A spokesman for the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, which is overseeing the investigation, said they could not comment on a juvenile case. Family of BB gun victim hopes proposed bill will save lives

Dais Johnston

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