12-Year-Old Anti-Gun Violence Advocate Shot to Death After Writing a Letter to Tennessee Governor on Gun Laws

Rayford smiling

Artemis "Sean" Rayford was killed shortly after Christmas by a stray bullet after having reached out to the Tennessee governor about the state's law that allows possession of guns without permits.

Artemis Rayford wrote a letter to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in reference to the state’s law that allowed handguns without a permit. 

Rayford, 12, was a supporter of anti-gang and gun violence advocacy, and was a member of the Memphis Police Department's Gang Resistance Education and Training program.

In his handwritten letter sent last year, Rayford wrote, "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.”

According to Fox 13, on Christmas morning Rayford was playing a game inside his grandmother's home when someone drove by and fired a gun, striking the child in the chest and killing him.

Joyce Newsom, Rayford’s grandmother, shared a message for the shooter with the local outlet at the end of December saying, “Turn yourself in because I know your mind has got to be on it,”

“This was only a 12-year old child [who] hadn’t done a thing to you, minding his own business in his own house playing his game that his mother had gotten him for Christmas.”

According to the outlet, the family struggled to pay for the seventh grader’s funeral and a family member organized a GoFundMe that ultimately raised a little over $8,000 to help with expenses.

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