South KC Perspective
By John Sharp
Although it is very difficult to conclusively prove without catching someone in the act, a confession, credible witness testimony or tracing a bullet to the gun it was fired from, it appears our barrage of celebratory gunfire on certain holidays and special events in KCMO may have claimed another victim.
A Kansas City police sergeant was wounded by gunfire outside police headquarters at 1125 Locust at about the time of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory.
The officer was transported to a hospital for treatment of a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and was reported to be in stable condition.
There was a report of multiple gunshots fired nearby at approximately the same time with evidence of apparent bullet damage to nearby buildings.
From 9 to 11 p.m. the night of the Chefs’ victory, there were 64 calls to 911 complaining of shots fired in the city according to the Kansas City Police Department. I heard constant gunfire including numerous people emptying high capacity clips for about 45 minutes after our victory before the volume of shots began to die down here in the Hickman Mills community.
“Celebratory gunfire is out of control here in Kansas City,” said Major Kari Thompson, the commander of the Department’s Community Engagement Division, in an interview.
Fortunately, help may be at hand in the not too distant future before more people are killed or injured by celebratory and indiscriminate gunfire.
Last week the Missouri House of Representatives passed Blair’s Law to make discharging a firearm within or into any city limits with criminal negligence a serious state offense instead of just a city ordinance violation. It was added as an amendment to an omnibus crime bill by a nearly unanimous voice vote. It now awaits Senate consideration with plenty of time before this year’s legislative session adjourns in May.
It is designed to reduce the barrage of celebratory gunfire that has plagued KCMO and other Missouri cities in recent years, particularly on holidays like July 4th & New Year’s Eve and special occasions such as the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory.
It is named after 11-year-old Blair Shanahan Lane who was killed in the Kansas City metropolitan area by celebratory gunfire during the July 4 holiday in 2011. The law makes the first offense a state Class A misdemeanor and subsequent offenses are felonies.
A vigorous campaign to educate potential shooters that bullets fired into the air return to earth with deadly velocity and about the much stiffer penalties for violations once the new law is enacted, coupled with pleas from victims’ families and respected community and faith leaders to stop the shooting and a well-planned campaign for enforcement and prosecution should be successful in greatly diminishing the number of our neighbors that think celebratory gunfire is just harmless fun.