Recognizing National Gun Violence Awareness Day

When did we get away from common sense in this country? Perhaps it was in 2004 when the United States Congress failed to renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Or perhaps, it was following the Sandy Hook shooting when gun laws across the country became more relaxed in 28 states. Here in Missouri, the state legislature has completely eliminated the permitting requirement as long as the firearm is concealed. So any average 19-year-old can legally acquire a gun without learning how to use it, without getting a permit as long as they keep it concealed and it’s perfectly legal. Needless to say, these types of relaxed gun laws have deadly consequences in our cities.

Tyra Brown, Jorge Delgado, and Emorye Spriggs are just three of the 40 citizens who have been victims of senseless gun violence in our community so far this year. Each of these young people were killed before they reached the age of 24. What’s most devastating is that 31% of the homicide victims this year have been under the age of 24, as well as 32% of the suspects in those crimes. To say this is disheartening is an understatement.

Nationally, these trends are just as alarming. Did you know that Americans are 25 times more likely to be murdered with guns than people in other developed countries? This is absurd. In 2015, firearms were responsible for more than 13,000 deaths in this country and 25% of those were children 17 and under. Not to mention the number of non-fatal gun victims.

In 2013, guns were used in 84,258 non-fatal incidents. Non-fatal incidents [of gun violence] cost the tax base $229 billion because of gun violence. That’s more than we spend on education in this country. That’s more than we spend on preventive health strategies to keep our citizens healthy. That’s more than $700 per American every year. What could you do with an extra $700 a year? Probably a whole lot more than finance a hospital visit for someone who was shot with an illegal gun by a 19-year-old kid.

I’m fed up with visiting crime scenes where the victim is an innocent child. I’m fed up with schools and universities being ground zero for mass killings. And I’m fed up with trying to convince misguided legislators, at various levels of government, that sensible gun regulations can be enacted without offending the Second Amendment. Despite the challenges, however, we must continue to argue for ways to eliminate the widespread availability of illegal guns on our city streets.

As we recognize National Gun Awareness Day we must double down on our collective efforts to make our intolerance of gun violence more widely known. Far too often, a life is cut short at the hands of someone who is barely old enough to drive. Yet, we receive no help to mitigate these tragedies. The Missouri State Legislature consistently turns a blind eye to passing smart legislation that will aid local municipalities in reducing this problem. And Congress seems to forget about all of these horrific mass shootings as soon as the corresponding news cycle ends.

While it is easy to be discouraged by our perceived lack of progress, I say double down! Double down in voicing your disdain with ineffective leadership in Jefferson City. Double down in advocating for more commonsense gun laws. Double down in your commitment to your community by reporting suspicious activity and/or engaging with the myriad of organizations that we have in Kansas City working to make our communities safer.

Mothers in Charge, Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action and AdHoc Group Against Crime are just some of the groups working day in and day out on this issue, all of which could use our support. You can start by showing your support today (Thursday, June 2nd) at 5:00 p.m. with the Kansas City Chapter of Moms Demand Action at 5200 Wornall to recognize National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Show your support by wearing orange.

I long for the day that these types of demonstrations aren’t necessary.  It will take all of us working together–and doubling down– to make that happen.  But, we owe that and more to Tyra Brown, Jorge Delgado, and Emorye Spriggs and all of the other victims of senseless gun violence.


5 thoughts on “Recognizing National Gun Violence Awareness Day

  1. Thank you for speaking out on this, Mayor James. I also long for a day when demonstrations in support of common sense regulation of firearms isn’t necessary. Too many politicians won’t take a stand on this because they’re afraid of offending the NRA, so thanks for demonstrating common sense and having courage to take a stand.

  2. Mayor James,

    I understand your concern about gun violence. But, I think that we get misguided when we discuss this topic. Guns are not the problem. People are the problem. It seems that we are talking about two different things in the same conversation. On one hand we are talking about legal gun ownership and the means by which a person can obtain a firearm in Missouri. And then we talk about illegal guns and getting them of the street. I would like to see you drill down deeper into your statistics to pull out the number of responsible armed citizens that own firearms that are committing violent gun crimes. I would care to wager that the numbers are low because law abiding citizens obey the law. You mentioned the likelihood of an American dying to gun violence in comparison to the rest of the industrialized world. Well, you also have to include another set of data to compliment that. And that is crime statistics. There is a correlation and when you read all the data together the picture becomes clearer that we don’t have a gun problem, we have a crime problem.

  3. When did this city ever allow cowards the right to hold guns? I was a gangbanger back in the day and to protect myself, I used fisticuffs (fists for those who don’t understand). If you had a gun, you were a coward and in my opinion today it still remains that way. A coward will not fight a fair fight with his fists, but with a gun. The cowards from the East side of town wouldn’t last two rounds with old gangbanger without their guns.

  4. Instead of bothering the law abiding citizens why not go after the REAL problem…the criminals who should not have guns of any kind. But that would make sense, and when has City Hall ever done anything that makes sense? We have a new hotel we don’t need, a street car line nobody wanted, and now this!

    If the Constitutional Carry law gets put in place, I wonder what will happen. I don’t have a problem with not carrying in City Hall or any court house etc. that’s common sense. But as an NRA Golden Eagle I have a problem understanding why the criminals in this city aren’t being picked up…oh wait…you cut the funding for the police force so we have less officers out there where they are needed…not the brightest idea. I think you need to rethink a whole lot of things before we turn into a city that is overrun with gang violence, do you want that? I should hope not.

  5. When I hear people talking about assault weapons I always wonder just what they’re talking about. A weapon is like any other tool; it can be used for good or evil. Anyone who purchases a weapon for self defense does not have an assault weapon no matter what they bought 9 they have a defensive weapon. The owner designates the use the weapon is to be put to.

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