Kari’s Law, as proposed by a Change.org petition initiated in mid-December by a Texas father whose daughter was brutally stabbed to death in front of her three young children in a hotel room last month, has attracted over 418,000 supporters in just a few weeks.
Kari Hunt was killed on Dec. 1 at the Baymont Inn & Suites in Marshall, Texas, by her estranged husband, Brad Allen Dunn. Because Kari’s 9-year-old daughter did not know how to use the hotel’s phone system, which requires dialing 9 before making a call, emergency help was unreachable—even though the girl was dialing 911.
Kari’s father, Hank Hunt, is petitioning to require businesses to have phone systems with easy access in dialing 911 for emergency personnel. The idea is that when someone is in fear or panic, it should not be difficult for them to reach an ambulance, the fire department, or the police department.
“What I understand is that this is a law, but not a federal law,” said Hunt in a telephone interview. “I do know it’s on the books in 29 states, and it varies from state to state. What we are petitioning toward is a federal requirement for PBX systems—telephone systems in any buildings, schools, high-rises, office buildings, hospitals, especially hotels and motels—to have the ability to dial the three digits 9-1-1 dispatch.”
According to Hunt and his gathered team of experts, even phone systems that are 20 or 30 years old can be programmed to do that, and it is not costly.
“I have people telling me that the telephone company makes money off of dialing 9 first, but I don’t know that to be fact,” Hunt said. “That’s why I am teaming up with people who do know those facts.”
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is directing his staff to research ways to help make this a law.
“We want to make sure a child never experiences the inability or horror of not getting emergency help, and to do it most effectively,” said Gohmert to the News Journal.
“I know that Congressman Gohmert has met with the FCC Chairman,” said Hunt.
The petition asks that the hotel chain where the murder happened lead the way in updating their phone systems.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Kari Rene Hunt at this very difficult time,” said Christine Da Silva, vice president, marketing communications of Wyndham Hotel Group, in an email interview.
“As an industry leader we are taking this matter very seriously and are currently looking into the issues that have been raised in the petition,” wrote Da Silva. “This is an industry-wide situation and we are committed to working with industry associations as well as other hotel companies to better understand the issues and the potential options for addressing them.”
Hunt would like petitioners to set aside a moment of their time next month to be proactive with this effort.
“On February 9, we are going to have a ‘Call Your Representative Day,’ and I want everybody to get on their phones and call their representative and tell them they want this law passed,” said Hunt.
“That day is Kari’s birthday, and she would be 32,” he added. “That’s what I want to do on her birthday.”
As of January 12, only 82,000 more signatures were needed.