KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, city officials, lawmakers and a grieving mother are all pleading with the public to put away their firearms during New Year’s celebrations.
The KCMO Police Department's ShotSpotter logged 1,162 rounds of shots going off last year. Of them, only 259 were actually reported to police.
“Shooting guns off in the city limits is illegal. It’s a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000, plus up to a year in jail,” said KCPD Chief Stacey Graves.
For mother Michele Shanahan DeMoss, it has been 11 years, five months and 25 days since she lost her baby girl, Blair Shanahan Lane. She was killed by celebratory gunfire on July 4, 2011.
“She would be 23 in January — she didn’t get a chance to do so many things,” DeMoss said. “If just one person had called 911 the night of July 4, 2011, Blair may have still been here.”
DeMoss has been fighting for her daughter since the day of the incident. With the support of local lawmakers, she has been pushing for Blair’s Law — legislation that has passed out of the Missouri House several times but never from both chambers.
“There will be an escalating penalty system. If it’s your first time being caught doing this, then it will be a misdemeanor. If it’s your second time, it’ll be a felony,” said Rep. Mark Sharp.
Sharp says redistricting and other issues got in the way last session, but he believes with a new stand-alone bill filed in the Senate this upcoming session, this may be the year.
“If Blair’s mom can be here, then I can be here,” Sharp said.
City officials, including Mayor Quinton Lucas, do not want people to think this sort of deadly recklessness can be overlooked because one person’s life is one too many to lose.
“I’m sure that I have hit a line of frustration, but I also know that there's something bigger than me pushing me to keep going and to share the message,” DeMoss said.
DeMoss, Sharp, Lucas and Graves spoke with the media about the consequences of celebratory gunfire in a media briefing Thursday, which can be viewed below.