NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Following emotional testimony from victims of the Covenant School shooting, the State Government Committee of 1st Extraordinary Session voted unanimously Wednesday morning to approve a bill relating to the privacy of children’s autopsies.

House Bill 7007 specifies that county medical examiner reports, and autopsy reports of victims of violent crime who are minors, are not public documents; however, it allows a parent or legal guardian to consent to the release of the report if they are not a suspect in the circumstances of the minor’s death.

Mary Joyce, the mother of two Covenant School students, presented testimony to the committee. She said her daughter was friends with the victims and saw the shooter take them down.

Joyce said her daughter and her third-grade classmates were also shot at by the killer and hid in the noisy chaos. The trauma from March 27 is something she said haunts her daughter and her family daily.

She read testimony sent from the parents of Covenant School shooting victims Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney.

The Scruggs’ statement asked lawmakers to consider who has the greater claim on Hallie: the public or the parents?

The Kinney family statement said releasing the autopsies would only retraumatize and revictimize their family.

“I’m looking around and I see the sadness,” said Rep. Vincent Dixie (D-District 54). “You can’t help but feel it in this room.”

The families said they want their children to be remembered by their joy, not the number of bullets that went through them.

“We want to keep our children and our loved ones at the forefront here because their lives meant something and losing them to a massacre is not fair,” said Joyce.

“This is something that we can correct, something that we will correct,” said Rep. Bryan Terry (R-District 48).

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The unanimous decision brought many in the audience, including members of Covenant Families for Brighter Tomorrows and Voices for a Safer Tennessee, to tears.

“We are pushing a boulder up the mountain right now when it really should be a pebble because these seem so simple and so common sense,” said Joyce. “We should protect our children any way possible and that’s something we can all come together on.”

“Keep pushing,” said Dixie. “All we can do is try and do the right thing and make people care. It’s hard to change people’s hearts, but just keeping doing it, and maybe we can do it one person at a time, one bill at a time.” 

The bill will now move to the Government Operations Committee.

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