KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A mother who has become an advocate for ending gun violence after her son died shielding others from gunfire is criticizing state lawmakers pushing to loosen gun laws after three Knoxville teens were recently killed.

Moms Demand Action, a grassroots group which works to reduce gun violence, released a statement from Zenobia Dobson.

Knoxville lawmakers have pledged to curb gun violence after 12 homicides were reported in the city’s first 47 days of 2021, including three students at Austin-East Magnet High School.

It is shameful that during the same week that three children in our community have been taken by gun violence, our state lawmakers are pushing a dangerous permitless carry bill that would only exacerbate our gun violence crisis.

-Zenobia Dobson

A bill proposed in the Tennessee General Assembly would allow people to openly carry a gun without a permit. Gov. Bill Lee has supported efforts to pass the legislation.

“My heart is with the loved ones of Janaria (Muhammad), Justin (Taylor) and Stanley (Freeman Jr.),” Dobson said of the three teens shot to death in the past month. “Sadly, I also know what it feels like to have a child taken by gun violence.”

Zaevion Dobson, Zenobia’s son, was 15 years old when he was shot and killed while shielding three friends from gunfire. He was posthumously awarded the Arther Ashe Courage Award at the 2016 ESPY Awards.

“We are committed to fighting this bill and pushing for common-sense gun safety laws so that no family has to have a loved one taken by gun violence again.”

Zenobia Dobson