KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ten years after her daughter’s death, Michele Shanahan DeMoss still finds it hard to believe her daughter was a victim of celebratory gunfire.
“I still am in disbelief that she died as the result of something that didn’t need to happen, shouldn’t have happened, (was) completely preventable, and senseless,” she said Thursday at a press conference with police, city and state officials.
Her daughter, Blair Shanahan Lane, was just 11 years old when a bullet struck her in the neck in July 2011, killing her.
Now, her mom is working with Kansas City to prevent such a tragedy from happening to other families.
Shanahan DeMoss urges those considering shooting a gun into the air for “celebratory” purposes, or those aware of plans to do so, to put a stop to it.
“There’s a choice to be made, a choice by the person who may pick up the gun. Don’t do it. Don’t fire it. We know it’s against the law and you could kill somebody. But the person who sees it, or hears about it: call the police, call 911,” she said.
KCPD Sgt. Jake Becchina also spoke Thursday and had a similar message, asking Kansas Citians to say something if they see or hear something.
“We ask that you as you’re celebrating this holiday this weekend — if you are celebrating with friends, family members, coworkers — as you hear people talking about going to get their gun to celebrate the holiday, to shoot it off, please have a conversation with them. Please talk to them. Try to talk them out of it,” Becchina said.
He said such a conversation could save someone’s life.
“That one bullet that doesn’t get fired could be the one that ends somebody else’s life,” Becchina said.
Becchina also reminded listeners that bullets fall back to earth with around the same velocity they leave a gun, posing a significant risk to people and property.
Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas contends there is no such thing as celebratory gunfire at all.
“Really there is no such thing as celebratory gunfire. There is no such thing as careless gunfire, every time you fire a bullet you are doing it without thinking about what you’re doing," he said.
Lucas pleaded with Kansas Citians to think about their community before potentially pulling a trigger.
“It doesn’t need to be this way and we just ask you, we implore you, we almost beg of you, just don’t fire your guns off. Don’t fire your guns off like it’s celebration, like it doesn’t matter. Care about somebody else. Care about the community you live in," he said.
Missouri State Rep. Mark Sharp, who represents southern parts of the Kansas City area, was also in attendance Thursday.
He’s sponsored Blair’s Law for the last several years, and says he’s still committed to getting it passed.
The law would make it a felony to fire a gun into the air.
In Kansas City, Becchina reminded residents any gunfire in city limits is illegal. At minimum, it could result in a misdemeanor charge.
The greatest consequence could be loss of life and a murder charge if the gunfire turns deadly, he said.
Shanahan DeMoss wants to remind people the consequences just aren't worth it.
“A life that could have been making a huge difference in our world… the possibilities were stolen because of stupidity,” she said.