Blair's Law was named after Blair Shanahan Lane whose life was cut short at age 11 when she was killed by celebratory gunfire .

Blair’s Law finally passes along with other crime reducing measures

“Although the new law will not be effective until August, KCPD will be out and in neighborhoods leading up to the 4th of July holiday to talk to residents about the dangers of indiscriminate gunfire,”

By John Sharp

Two legislative measures passed just before this year’s session of the Missouri General Assembly adjourned on May 12 which should help reduce our city’s terrible rate of violent crimes. One affects celebratory gun fire and the other police department salary caps.

Both measures were added as amendments to an omnibus anti-crime bill (Senate Bill 189) that passed the General Assembly a day before this year’s legislative session adjourned on May 12.  It passed with overwhelming majorities of 109 to 11 in the House with 26 legislators voting present and 30-4 in the Senate.  Governor Mike Parson is widely expected to sign it into law.

Blair’s Law

 Blair’s Law is named after 11-year-old Blair Shanahan Lane who died in Independence when she was struck by celebratory gunfire while playing in the yard during the July 4th Holiday in 2011.

This legislation is designed to deter the growing problem of celebratory and indiscriminate gunfire by making it a serious state offense to discharge a firearm with criminal negligence within or into any municipality instead of only a city ordinance violation.

The first offense would be a Class A misdemeanor punishable by incarceration up to a year.  A second offense would be a Class E felony punishable by incarceration up to four years.  Any subsequent offenses would be Class D felonies punishable by incarceration up to seven years.

Since Blair’s Law will not become effective until August 28 once it is signed into law by the governor as expected, both the KCMO city prosecutor and police chief said they will take steps to deter this extremely dangerous practice leading up to the July 4th Holiday.

My son, Representative Mark Sharp, has sponsored Blair’s Law for all four years he has been in the Missouri House, working with Blair’s mother, Michele Shanahan DeMoss, as it got closer to passage each year until winning final passage this year. Prior to that, it had been sponsored by DaRon McGee. 

A KCMO ordinance makes it unlawful to discharge a firearm within the city except to defend persons or property or when used by law enforcement officers or process servers.  Violators may be sentenced to up to six months incarceration or fined up to $500 or both.

City Prosecutor Linda Miller said in an interview her office will explore the strongest penalty available by ordinance for the most dangerous instances of celebratory and indiscriminate gunfire, considering the circumstances of each case, during the period before Blair’s Law takes effect.

Police Chief Stacey Graves said in an interview she is thankful for Blair’s Law passing to make celebratory and indiscriminate gunfire in cities a state offense.

“Although the new law will not be effective until August, KCPD will be out and in neighborhoods leading up to the 4th of July Holiday to talk to residents about the dangers of indiscriminate gunfire,“ she said.

Hopefully, a widespread public education campaign can be started as soon as possible to warn persons who might be tempted to engage in this dangerous and irresponsible practice about the possible deadly effects of celebratory and indiscriminate gunfire and also about the serious legal consequences for violators due to beefed up enforcement and tougher penalties. 

Police Salary Caps

One of the measures removes the outdated salary caps in state law for all ranks in our police department that make it difficult to recruit officers for our understaffed department. 

These non-competitive salary caps make it even more difficult to retain officers when they can go to neighboring jurisdictions including several in Johnson County KS., and make more money, not constantly have to go from call, to call, to call due to understaffing and not face as much danger due to those jurisdictions having much lower rates of violent crime.

This measure allows the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners to establish a comprehensive pay schedule for all ranks with step increases.

It also removes the discriminatory language in current state law that prohibits hiring a police chief who is more than 60 years of age, no matter what their qualifications.

Grandview Main Street

In another legislative matter of local interest, freshman Representative Anthony Ealy, a member of the powerful House Budget Committee, was able to win legislative approval of his amendment to House Bill 7 to provide $300,000 for improvements to help revitalize Grandview’s historic Main St. area.

The funds will be used for sidewalk improvements to improve walkability, façade improvements and beautification efforts on Main Street from I-49 to 5th Street, according to Grandview City Administrator Cemal Gungor, who said the city intends to match the state funding with an additional $1 million.

Ealy said in an interview he has talked to Governor Mike Parson and his staff about the importance of revitalizing Grandview’s historic downtown area to help assure the governor approves the funding when he considers the legislation.


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