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Kansas City legal experts weigh in on calls for tighter gun laws

Posted at 10:16 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 23:50:01-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As Americans grieve the victims of another mass shooting and Kansas City grapples with yet another violent year, the discussion of stricter gun laws is back.

"There's a lot of solutions. There's just very little political will," Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County, Missouri, prosecutor, said.

Peters Baker knows first-hand the good and bad those policies can do to a community.

"You just don't see fully automatic guns," she said. "The reason for that is very simple. They're illegal."

In 2016, Missouri lawmakers did away with the need for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, along with the eight-hour training class and background check that came with it.

"So we lost a tool, an important one. And it was one of those tools that was sort of a precursor to larger violence," Peters Baker said.

Missouri and Kansas are among the 30 states in which gun stores and other federal firearms licensees are required to run a background check on interested buyers against a system run by the FBI.

"Any domestic violence, conviction of any kind, that's an automatic denial for life," said Kevin Jamison, attorney and author of "Missouri Weapons and Self-Defense Law." "Some people who've been committed by a judge to a mental health facility for mental health reasons are in the computer."

President Joe Biden is urging Congress to close the loopholes in that background check system as advocates push for longer waiting periods for purchases.

But Second Amendment supporters believes the attention is misdirected.

"It would be clever if the powers that be would do some decent investigations into where criminals get guns, and then target that, rather than picking on the honest people who do not commit crimes," Jamison said.

Peters Baker said that regulation could keep communities safer.

"It's really a small imposition on those of us who are legal gun owners," she said. "We can balance this out – and in the balance, America does not have to live with this type of violence that we experience every day."