South KC Perspective
Blair’s Law Advances
By John Sharp
Blair’s Law to make discharging a firearm with criminal negligence within or into city limits a serious state offense has been approved by the Missouri House of Representatives, but not before such indiscriminate gunfire has claimed another victim in Kansas City.
Aviva Okeson-Haberman, 24, a KCUR radio reporter who covered Missouri politics and government, died after she was found unconscious in her apartment on April 23 after being struck by a bullet that came through a window.
One of her early stories at KCUR after joining its staff in 2019 was an interview with my son, Mark Sharp, as part of her coverage of his first race for state representative in November of that year when she asked him to name a bill he planned to introduce if elected. He replied it would be Blair’s Law and explained why it was urgently needed.
Blair’s Law is named after 11-year-old Blair Shanahan Lane who died after being struck by celebratory gunfire here on July 4, 2011.
He added Blair’s Law by amendment onto another bill being debated in the Missouri House on April 12, and the amended bill passed the House on April 19 by a vote of 109 to 36, with 7 legislators voting present.
The amended bill (House Committee Substitute for House Bill 944) is now awaiting a hearing by the Senate General Laws Committee. The original bill was introduced to allow discharge of a firearm from a stationary motor vehicle on private property in rural areas to protect livestock from predators.
Blair’s Law will make celebratory gunfire and any other discharge of firearms with criminal negligence within or into city limits a Class A misdemeanor for the first violation, a Class E felony for the second violation and a Class D felony for subsequent violations.
Currently, such gunfire in Kansas City is just a city ordinance violation unless there are specified aggravating circumstances.
I have visited other major U.S. cities such as Dallas during holidays in recent years that like Kansas City have high rates of gun ownership, and in none of them did I hear anything near the amount of celebratory gunfire I hear every year on holidays like New Year’s Eve and July 4 in Kansas City. They don’t tolerate it, and neither should we!