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Blair Shanahan Lane’s mom celebrates signing of law in slain daughter’s memory

Michele Shanahan DeMoss
Michele Shanahan DeMoss and Blair Shanahan
Blair Shanahan Lane
Graves and MSD.jpeg
Posted at 6:06 PM, Jul 09, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City mother’s 4,754-day journey to change the state law regarding celebratory gunfire after her 11-year-old daughter’s death reached the finish line Tuesday in Jefferson City.

Michele Shanahan DeMoss was on hand as Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 754, which included "Blair’s Law."

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The new law enhances penalties statewide for recklessly firing a gun in city limits.

"To me, it’s always been more than Blair," Shanahan DeMoss said. "Blair will always be it to me, but nobody else should ever sit in my seat."

Michele Shanahan DeMoss
Michele Shanahan DeMoss — a Kansas City mother whose 11-year-old daughter, Blair Shanahan Lane — was shot and killed on July 4, 2011, celebrated the end of a 4,754-day journey to change the state law regarding celebratory gunfire Tuesday with a bill signing for Blair's Law in Jefferson City.

It’s now been more than 13 years since Blair Shanahan Lane was killed by celebratory gunfire on July 4, 2011, but her mother never gave up hope.

"It took some time, but I think there’s a saying about the tortoise and the hare," Shanahan DeMoss said. "I clearly am the tortoise, but we are here."

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Shanahan DeMoss said she persisted in Blair’s memory, to prevent other families from experiencing similar pain, and to give herself purpose.

"With regards to Blair’s life and death, I can’t ask why," she said. "I needed to make something good happen. That’s really where I’ve been at. ... It’s just what got me out of bed. It really is what got me out of bed is knowing that I could make something happen."

Missouri lawmakers also passed Blair’s Law in 2023 after years of stalling in one chamber of the other, but Parson vetoed the bill last summer.

There was no veto in 2024.

Blair’s Law, which the state legislature passed in May, makes it a crime statewide if someone “recklessly discharges a firearm within or into the limits of a municipality.”

That includes firing a round into the air with disregard for where it lands. Such celebratory gunfire is common on some holidays.

The first offense is a Class A misdemeanor, but a second offense will now be a Class E felony and a third or subsequent offense would be a Class D felony.

A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine under Missouri law, while the range of punishment for a Class E felony is up to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

A Class D felony, which includes the existing unlawful use of a weapon statute, is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

KCPD Chief of Police Stacey Graves joined Shanahan DeMoss in Jeff City for the bill signing.

Graves cheered Shanahan Demoss’ perseverance and courage via KCPD’s social media accounts.

“Celebratory gunfire has no place in Missouri and the stricter state penalties for this reckless crime should weigh heavily on those who choose to break the law,” Graves said via social media.

KCKPD also congratulated Shanahan Lane’s mother for her tireless efforts in a comment.

“We praise Michele for her tireless efforts,” the KCK Police Department said. “Blair’s Law not only honors her daughter, but will save the lives of other innocent victims.”

Aaron Sullivan, who worked part-time at the apartment complex where he lived near Riss Lake, pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2011, to involuntary manslaughter in Shanahan Lane’s death.

She was dancing with a sparkler in the yard outside her uncle’s house in the 4300 block of Pittman Road when she was hit by a stray bullet.

Sullivan admitted to owning the gun and firing it into the lake along with two other people, resulting in Shanahan Lane’s death. He was sentenced in February 2012 to three years in prison.

Blair’s Foster Socks, which Shanahan DeMoss started in her late daughter’s memory, provides socks for children in foster care.