Memphis D.A. Won't Charge Teen With Illegally Possessing Gun After Self-Defense Shooting

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Democrats and gun control activists have criticized Republican lawmakers for rejecting multiple anti-gun measures this session, so I'm curious to see if any of them will turn their attention to the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office for refusing to prosecute a teen who was illegally carrying a firearm when he used it in self-defense. After all, what's the point of putting new laws on the books when prosecutors aren't even using the tools that are already in their toolbox? 

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In April, the 17-year-old was allegedly illegally carrying a gun when he shot and killed a 16-year-old outside of the Douglass Community Center. Investigators determined that the older teen was acting in self-defense when he pulled the trigger, and no charges have been filed in connection with the shooting itself. 

Still, the 17-year-old is too young to carry a concealed firearm under Tennessee law, which begs the question: why isn't the Shelby County D.A. pursuing charges for illegally possessing and carrying the pistol? 

Action News 5 wanted to know whether or not the surviving teen is facing consequences for being a minor in possession of a deadly weapon. According to the juvenile court, the answer is no. 

It is imperative to note that the possession of the firearm in question was classified as a misdemeanor.

Shelby County Juvenile Court 

Officials with SCJC and the Memphis Police Department both say the case was not brought before the juvenile court because the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office declined prosecution after careful consideration.

Action News 5 reached out to the District Attorney’s Office for more information Tuesday morning. We were told they’d look into it, but we still have yet to hear back.

Yes, it's a misdemeanor. So what? Last time I checked misdemeanor offenses were still criminal offenses subject to arrest and prosecution, and just a few months ago D.A. Steven Mulroy told local press that he wanted to prioritize prosecuting juvenile offenders "before they potentially move to more violent offenses." It seems like this case would certainly fit Mulroy's criteria, so why is he giving the teen a pass instead of charging him with possession of a deadly weapon? 

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It's not like Mulroy is such a staunch defender of the Second Amendment that he believes 17-year-olds have the right to carry. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. Just a few weeks ago Mulroy was bashing the state's gun laws for being too "lax."

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said Tennessee’s gun laws are causing the crime wave in Memphis.

“Clearly our gun laws are too lax, our gun laws are too soft-on-crime in Tennessee,” the DA said during a Thursday press conference. “We need to repeal permitless carry.”

 DA Mulroy said Shelby County should be exempt from the “lax” gun law.

“Local government needs to be given more power to regulate the presence of firearms in public spaces like parks, near schools or any space,” Mulroy said.

Why? So he can ignore those misdemeanor ordinances as well? Mulroy is already vested with the power and authority to charge this 17-year-old with carrying a firearm without a license. He's just refusing to lift a finger to prosecute the teen for doing so. 

The editorial pages of the Memphis Commercial Appeal consistently feature columns advocating for gun control and bashing Republicans for supposedly turning a blind eye to crime. Will they spare a few column inches to blast Mulroy for his decision to not charge this teen with illegally carrying a gun? Will the red-shirted moms who demanded action at the state capitol in Nashville protest outside Mulroy's office? Will Memphis-area pro-gun control lawmakers like state representative Justin Pierson utter a single word of criticism about Mulroy's inaction? 

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I wouldn't bet on it. My prediction: Pierson and groups like Moms Demand Action will studiously avoid mentioning this case. They certainly won't criticize the Democrat D.A. Most local media will give the D.A. a pass, and Mulroy will continue to demand more laws while ignoring the existing prohibitions that are already in place. 

Memphis doesn't need any more gun control laws. A D.A. that's actually serious about addressing juvenile crime, on the other hand, would be a welcome improvement to the status quo that treats lawful gun owners as a bigger threat than those individuals who are violating the state's supposedly "lax" laws.  

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