Kentucky governor links teacher protests to shooting of 7-year-old girl

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) on Thursday linked teacher "sick outs" that occurred in the state earlier this year to the shooting of a 7-year-old girl.

Bevin's remarks at a Louisville Rotary Club event came in response to a question about how to stem gun violence, the Courier Journal reports. He emphasized putting more focus on firearm safety and behavioral health rather than new gun regulations.

"One thing you almost didn't hear anything about while we had people pretending to be sick when they weren't sick, and leaving kids unattended to or in situations that they should not have been in — a little girl was shot, 7 years old, by another kid," Bevin said, according to the newspaper.

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According to the paper, Bevin was appearing to refer to a shooting incident that occurred in Jefferson County in late March involving a 7-year-old girl.

The girl had reportedly been shot accidentally by her brother while they were at home on a day that Jefferson County Public Schools were closed due to the teacher protest. Their uncle, who was their guardian, was reportedly outside the house at the time.

Bevin said the girl, who survived the incident, had been shot because the kids “were somewhere that they weren't intended and because a parent didn't have any option put them in a situation so that they could go to work, it left these kids in a compromised situation where they encountered a gun and there was not enough awareness.”

The Kentucky Democratic Party quickly issued a statement condemning Bevin’s remarks not long after the event.

“Governor Bevin’s continued attacks on teachers are disgusting and unforgivable,” Marisa McNee, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Democratic Party, said in the statement.

“In the past, he’s accused teachers of causing children to be sexually assaulted, and now he’s claiming they are responsible for a child killed in an accidental shooting. He’s completely out of control. Kentuckians deserve better than this,” she continued.

Bevin, who has clashed with teachers groups in the past, caught heat last year for suggesting that teacher protests in the state exposed children to sexual assault or poison at home.

He also caught flak earlier this year after saying schools that closed due to extreme cold in the state were “getting soft.”

According to a poll from Morning Consult released on Thursday, Bevin is the nation’s least popular governor.