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Legislator hosts meeting on gun violence following shooting at Chiefs Super Bowl rally

Leaders plan to hold similar meeting every week
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Posted at 5:29 PM, Feb 19, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Speakers at a public meeting Monday said addressing gun violence will require new laws and new engagement within the community.

Jackson County, Missouri, Legislator Manny Abarca IV is the chair of the county’s Health and Environment Committee. He dedicated Monday’s committee meeting to addressing gun violence in response to the shooting at Wednesday's Chiefs Super Bowl victory rally which killed Lisa Lopez-Galvan and injured 22 others.

About 10 members of the public spoke in support of tougher gun laws, tougher sentences for violators, and investments in community programs to help at-risk youth from using guns illegally.

“The culture change that is truly needed is where we come from,” said Lamar Vickers of K.C.O.G., Keeping Communities on Guard. “We’re saying it’s time to get engaged with the youth to develop a positive framework for them to live off of.”

Vickers’ organization leads mentorship, workforce development, and other activities for youth. He saw Monday’s meeting as a great first step to making changes on a larger scale.

Legislators did not take a formal vote nor take any formal action Monday. Abarca said there are several next steps he can explore.

“It gives me some strings to pull on and go chase,” he explained.

Those “strings” include how to properly fund community programs and youth outreach. Abarca also wants to explore changes to how courts handle domestic violence court cases so victims don’t have to come face to face with their accused attackers.

Missouri laws about guns and gun control preempt local laws. So any new gun control law the Jackson County legislature were to pass would almost certainly face a legal challenge from the state attorney general. Abarca feels like passing new, local laws is still worth a try.

“You can unpack and say there are family issues as well probably, or mental health issues, but fine, let’s go invest in those because those are things the state legislature’s not addressing right now,” Abarca said. “The reality is we can start to legislate some of these solutions.”

Abarca will allow time for public testimony on gun violence every Monday at 10:30 a.m. during the Health and Environment Committee meetings on the second floor of the the Jackson County Courthouse at 415 E. 12th S., Kansas City, Missouri.

Legislators Abarca, Charlie Franklin, and Donna Peyton attended Monday's meeting in person. Legislator Sean Smith attended virtually. Legislators Jalen Anderson and DaRon McGee, who are members of the Health and Environment Committee, did not attend.