Family's mission for gun safety gains city's official support

It was four years ago this month that 11-year-old Matthew Bellamy of Little River was accidentally killed by an unsecured firearm.

Matthew's grieving parents turned their anguish into a campaign for gun safety that for the first time this year has the official backing of their hometown.

The month of January has been declared Gun Safety Month in North Myrtle Beach, as the city sanctions the mission of The Matthew Bellamy Project.

On January 22, 2010, Matthew was visiting a friend's home, when the other boy found a 22-caliber rifle that was left unsecured.

"And Matthew's friend, who was 12, picked it up and turned to show it to Matthew with his finger on the trigger and it discharged. Matthew was shot in the chest," said Matthew's mother, Mylissa Bellamy.

Matthew's death was devastating to the Bellamy family, Mylissa says.

Later that year, after they heard many similar tragic stories in the news, Mylissa says the family had what she calls an "a-ha moment". They decided they had to do something about gun safety.

The campaign began with the family giving out gun trigger locks for free and soon added educational programs at schools and daycare centers.

This year, the mission gained the official endorsement of the City of North Myrtle Beach.

"This is our hometown and to have the month of Matthew's death and be able to focus on our hometown and safety here and really working in our community, it's special for us," Mylissa said.

So far, The Matthew Bellamy Project has given out 4,500 gun locks to people in 13 states.

This month alone, Mylissa, who has quit her accounting job and now devotes herself full time to the project, will make ten gun safety presentations around the area.

"It is hard to tell the story over and over and over, but we believe that we're saving children."

While none of those efforts will bring Matthew back, it does help keep his memory alive.

"We will never understand why we lost our son, but at least it has a purpose now," Mylissa says.

The Bellamys are gun owners themselves and have chosen to stay out of the politics of trying to change gun laws.

For now, Mylissa says they'll concentrate on education and trying to save lives.