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Missouri House votes to ban celebratory gunfire days after Chiefs' parade shooting

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Posted at 8:00 AM, Feb 20, 2024

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Republican-led House on Monday passed a bill to ban celebratory gunfire in cities less than a week after a deadly shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade left some attending lawmakers hiding in bathrooms.

Kansas City police have said the shooting appeared to stem from a dispute between several people and not celebratory gunfire. One woman was killed and 22 people were injured. About half of the injured people were under the age of 16.

But the largely bipartisan-supported bill on celebratory gunfire represents a rare effort to regulate guns in a state with some of the most expansive laws on firearm ownership.

Already emotional Republicans and Democrats used Monday's debate on the measure to fight over the best way to address last week’s shooting, and gun violence more broadly.

Kansas City Democratic Rep. Patty Lewis spoke through tears as she described hiding in an alcove to avoid being trampled.

“What made me most sad was fear that nothing was going to happen," Lewis said, referencing state gun laws. “I’ve seen it happen over and over."

Republican Rep. Ben Baker spoke against reacting emotionally to the shooting as Democrats shouted at him from across the House floor.

“There’s always a call for stricter gun laws. It’s the almost immediate reaction by many in this body when something happens like this,” Baker said. "But the fact is, no law that we could pass in this body would have prevented the terrible tragedy that happened last week."

Lawmakers shortly after voted 120-26 to make shooting a firearm within city limits a misdemeanor for the first offense, with exceptions.

The measure was named after 11-year-old Blair Shanahan Lane, who was dancing with a sparkler on July 4, 2011, outside her suburban Kansas City home and was struck in the neck by a stray bullet.

Missouri lawmakers had passed Blair's Law last year as part of a sweeping crime-related bill, but GOP Gov. Mike Parson vetoed the legislation. He cited issues with other crime provisions in the bill unrelated to celebratory gunfire.

GOP Rep. Chad Perkins on Monday slammed some Democrats for voting against the bill last year, highlighting tensions between the two parties on the issue.

“I am disgusted at the hypocrisy from the other side,” Perkins yelled into a microphone. “It is this side that voted for a gun bill.”

Majority Leader Jon Patterson, who lives in a Kansas City suburb, on Monday told reporters that House Republicans are “pretty adament” in their support for “law abiding citizens' Second Amendment rights.” But he said lawmakers should be open to wide-ranging policy solutions in response to the shooting.

“What happened last week was tragic,” Patterson said. “So we should be willing to look at gun policy, social policy, mental health policy, public safety and crime policy to address those problems.”