Mayor James: 'Hands are tied' on gun violence

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A visibly frustrated Mayor Sly James told 41 Action News on Tuesday that his "hands are tied," when it comes to stopping most gun violence here.

He said state laws that prevent the city from enacting ordinances to combat illegal guns make it all-but-impossible for the city to prevent shootings like those which killed three people and injured 16 in the last 48 hours.

"It is an impossibility to stop someone with a gun in the middle of a club from shooting unless a cop is sitting on his or her lap," James said, in reference to Saturday night's shooting at an illegal after-hours club.

The mayor said he continues to support Police Chief Darryl Forte and his "hotspot policing" model. He  argued that without tougher laws to take guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them, there's little any city or police force can do.

"We want to change what happens on the streets of this city as related to guns and people shooting other people, give us the ability to do something to take the guns out of the hands of idiots who shouldn't have them," James said.  "It's just that simple."

The body with the power to give the city that ability, the Republican-controlled legislature in Jefferson City, has consistently rebuffed the mayor's requests to do so, he said.

"There's no appetite in that legislature, across the board, to do this," he said. "Face it."

"The next time I go and talk to a legislator about maybe trying to introduce gun legislation, you ought to come with me and look at the look on their face when I raise the subject," the mayor continued.

"There's going to be people not happy with me talking about the idea that we as a city need to have some ability to control illegal guns on our street," he continued. "To some people, that's heresy."

The mayor also chastised federal lawmakers for failing to pass stiffer national gun laws after last fall's deadly shootings at a Connecticut elementary school.

"Everybody got upset about Newtown and they should have. It was absolutely horrible. It was a massacre," James said. "Nothing has happened with guns. And we've been watching slow motion mass murder in this country every single day. And nothing gets done about guns, but we always want to talk about gun violence, but never about what we can do about guns. You can't have it both ways."

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