Parents of boy killed by celebratory gunfire push lawmakers for change

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jan 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-15 21:18:50-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- The parents of a seven-year-old Chesterfield boy who died after police said he was hit by a stray bullet are urging lawmakers to consider a new bill to toughen penalties for firing off celebratory shots.

Bryan Mackey,  the father of Brenden Mackey testified in front of the Senate Courts and Justice Committee Wednesday.

"I'm Bryan Mackey, Brendon's father. I was right there when he was walking to the fireworks show when he fell to the ground... and was struck in the head," Mackey said.

Police said Brendon died after he was struck by a celebratory gunshot fired on the Fourth of July. It is still a mystery who fired the shot.

The committee is considering SB65, a bill sponsored by Senator Henry Marsh that would increase the penalties for firing a gun in celebration.

If no one is injured, it would be a misdemeanor under newly amended language. If a person is struck, it would be classified as a felony.

Wednesday the Courts Committee referred it to the Finance Committee where it will wait further scrutiny.

Those in opposition, including the Virginia Defense League, said the proposed law is too vague.

"It is too broad and it would be too easy to sweep somebody into a felony," VDL President Philip Van Cleave said.

Van Cleave suggested lawmakers promote public service announcements and not new laws.

Following the committee meeting, Bryan Mackey and another gun control advocate, Andrew Goddard, shared an embrace.

Goddard's son was a victim of the Virginia Tech shooting.