South KC Perspective
By John Sharp
Despite televised pleas not to engage in celebratory gunfire New Year’s Eve by KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas, KCMO Police Chief Stacey Graves, my son Missouri State Representative Mark Sharp and Michele Shanahan DeMoss – the mother of 11-year-old Blair Shanahan Lane who was killed here during the July 4th holiday in 2011 by celebratory gunfire – I literally heard thousands of shots in my neighborhood that evening.
The sporadic gunfire that began earlier in the evening became a continuous fusillade of shots shortly after 11:30 p.m. and continuing until nearly 1 a.m. before finally tapering off. The call volume to 911 became so large that I couldn’t even get a recording asking me not to hang up. The line just went dead every time I called to report the gunshots. I have never experienced that before.
After several calls, my cell phone provider connected me automatically to a national emergency call center, but even it couldn’t get through to our 911 call center. It was close to 1 a.m. before I finally got through.
It seems miraculous that there have been no reports of persons being injured or killed by all these gunshots, but there undoubtedly has been a lot of property damage caused by bullets hitting roofs or vehicles.
It’s too bad the many shooters didn’t listen to these comments at the December 29 press conference pleading with people not to engage in celebratory gunfire or fire their guns in the air indiscriminately.
Chief Graves reminded listeners that bullets fired in the air will return to earth with deadly velocity. They are going to come back down and hit somebody or something, she said.
DeMoss correctly called such gunfire which took her daughter’s life irresponsible and reckless.
“A gun is not a toy,” she emphasized.
All of the following actions appear necessary to significantly reduce potentially deadly celebratory gunfire which unfortunately has become somewhat of a tradition with too many area residents:
Pass Blair’s Law named to honor the memory of Blair Shanahan Lane to make discharging a firearm with criminal negligence within or into city limits a serious state offense instead of a mere city ordinance violation. These provisions were added to other legislation that passed the Missouri House in 2021 and 2022, but the Senate failed to act on the legislation. This year Blair’s Law has been introduced again as House Bill 109 by Representative Sharp and as Senate Bill 343 by Kansas City Senator Greg Razer who has had the roof of his home hit by such gunfire.
Conduct a citywide public awareness campaign about the danger to lives and property from celebratory and indiscriminate gunfire and the penalties (including fines and possible jail time) for violating city ordinances prohibiting such irresponsible shooting and state felony charges such as involuntary manslaughter if someone is killed or injured as a result.
Prepare an enforcement plan to arrest and charge violators utilizing ShotSpotter technology to pinpoint the location of such gunfire as well as called-in complaints to 911 by city residents and business owners.