'Celebratory' gunfire kills people. Don't do it
The Kansas City Star
The Kansas City Police Department has issued timely advice about celebratory gunfire: Don’t do it.
“Firing a gun in city limits is against the law 365 days a year, and that includes New Year’s Eve,” Chief Darryl Forté said in a news release. “Residents should be able to celebrate the holiday safely and not be in fear of being struck by a stray bullet. Officers will be on the lookout for this illegal gunfire and will arrest perpetrators.”
What the department’s release didn’t say was that anyone arrested isn’t likely to face serious consequences. Firing into the air is a city ordinance offense, with misdemeanor penalties. Prosecutors can only bring serious charges if someone gets hurt.
That needs to change. It should be a state felony offense to put other people’s lives at risk by firing guns into the air. Politicians promised to get that done after a stray bullet fired from a boat dock in Kansas City killed 11-year-old Blair Shanahan Lane DeMoss on July 4, 2011. But bills in both Missouri and Kansas were buried in committee.
The reasons are vague, but one can surmise that the reluctance of legislators to get on the wrong side of the National Rifle Association has something to do with the fact that much-needed legislation prompted by the death of a child went nowhere. I am waiting to see if anyone will even step up to sponsor “Blair’s Law” this year.
Blair was a beautiful child. Before her death, she had mapped out plans for a charity to supply socks to foster children. I am in touch with her mother, Michele Shanahan-DeMoss, and I can tell you that, for Blair’s family, the sorrow over the murder of this incredibly promising child has not even begun to diminish.
There is nothing celebratory about precious lives lost because people think it’s OK to fire a gun. There is only endless mourning. Kansas City police will do the right thing by arresting people who try it. But state lawmakers need to do their part.