Celebratory gunfire meets harsher penalties as Brendon’s Law passes

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Supporters are calling Brendon's Law passage a huge victory.

With bipartisan support in the General Assembly the legislation passed Wednesday will now impose harsher new penalties for anyone caught recklessly handling a firearm which seriously injures another person.

House Bill 810 will crack down on those people who fire weapons in the air during celebrations like New Year's Eve or Fourth of July. The bill was named after Brendon Mackey. He was the seven year old from Chesterfield who was killed at his father's side as they prepared to watch fireworks last summer.

Gena Reeder, Virginia Chapter Leader of Mom's Demand Action, applauded lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for what she calls common sense legislation.

Gena said the legislation on the books means a little boy will not have died in vain.

"If we go to a public space the last thing we need to worry about is a bullet falling out of the sky,” Reeder said. "It was a tragic story, but nothing is going to bring him back. But giving him the legacy was the right thing to do."

Gun rights advocates initially opposed the law but after the bill was rewritten to include malicious wounding by reckless gunfire their opposition eased. Philip Van Cleave with Virginia Citizen’s Defense League says more laws restricting legal gun owners is not the answer.

"We have laws against drunk driving and every year we have a lot of people put into graves because of drunk drivers,” Van Cleave said. “I think education is key here. Explaining to people that that is dangerous."

If you break Brendon’s Law you will face a Class Six felony, which carries up to five years in prison. Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to soon sign the bill into law.


  • John

    A death as a result of “celebratory gun fire” would be classified as manslaughter. Serious injury would fall under the malicious wounding statute. The bottom line is there are already laws on the books that could be used when idiots cause a tragedy such as this! I believe the idiot responsible for this tragedy deserves to serve everyday allowed by law under the manslaughter statute!

    This is nothing more than political grandstanding, existing law clearly states you are legally responsible for where the rounds end up when you fire a gun. That includes when you are hunting, target shooting, shooting in self defense, or being an idiot and firing up in the air!

    • papagodd

      NOT TRUE, the previous statute did not specify an offense for actual wounding of a person. This specifies that wounding is a Class 6 Felony.

  • lori tanner

    but now you don’t have to injure/kill someone in order to get in trouble. The problem is still where did the bullet come from. (prayers to that family).

    • papagodd

      NOT TRUE. The law already existed against firing recklessly without hitting anyone. This simply adds the wounding law, which DID NOT exist before.

  • John

    All the counties around here have ordinances about firing firearm within a subdivision or within a certain distance from a road. This tragic situation was already covered by existing statutes, the sad thing is, the irresponsible person responsible for Brandon’s death will probably never be found!

  • BO

    I bet lawmakers really feel good wasting taxpayer money by making a law they know is a feel good BS then patting themselves on the back.I’m amazed any of you support the waste that goes on.

  • Gerry

    Well, how will it be enforced? Will they count on tips from civilians to arrest the perps? How will they prove it?

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