All it took was one man with a gun for many Kansas Citians to stay home on First Friday last week, paralyzed with fear. With 112 gun related homicides reported in Kansas City in 2019 according to the Kansas City Star, this fear seems justified.
In August when city council members introduced two ordinances aimed at combating gun crime by preventing minors getting ahold of firearms.
“Instead of kind of waving a white flag and saying, ‘We can’t do anything,’ today we said, We can,’” said Mayor Quinton Lucas.
The ordinances criminalize the possession of a handgun by a minor and require a parent’s permission for a minor to be sold or given a firearm.
One criticism of the new ordinances is that they do not go far enough and are merely implementations of existing federal law.
While many citizens call for more stringent and comprehensive gun reform, Lucas and the City Council only have so much authority when it comes to gun laws.
“There is a state law that preempts local regulation on guns,” said law professor and Assistant Dean of Students Allen Rostron. “It’s a result of the fact that, politically, the state as a whole may be more conservative than some of the cities within the state.”
Missouri removed the majority of authority local municipalities had to regulate firearms through pre-emption laws. This has left Kansas City few options.
“They can ask the general assembly to change things,” Rostron added. “For the most part, their hands are tied.”
Campus Carry was a controversial measure proposed and debated in the last legislative session and is another gun law that cities and state universities have little-to-no authority on. The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Jered Taylor, aimed to limit restrictions on where a concealed firearm could be carried. Taylor’s measure would allow concealed-carry weapons on campuses and in government buildings, as well as other previously restricted locations.
Taylor’s bill was not passed in the last session due to time restraints, Rostron explained, but it will likely be brought back next session and is expected to pass.
Many students, in contrast with our state legislature, think that campus carry would not make our schools safer.
“In high schools, girls are not allowed to wear certain things because it is distracting,” said sophomore Charisma Sewell said. “I think having guns in a classroom is distracting…it is going to make students more uncomfortable.”
One thing both Rostron and Sewell agreed on is that students can make their voice heard (whether for or against gun reform) by talking to their representatives. You can find your representatives and their contact information below:
Missouri Find my Legislator – house.mo.gov/legislatorlookup.aspx
KSLeg Lookup – ksleglookup.org