To: The Students of Kansas City
From: Mayor Sly James
RE: April 20, 2018 National School Walkout Day
Dear Student Leaders:
Let me first tell you how proud I am of you for persisting in this effort to make your schools, and by extension our cities, safer by demanding common sense gun laws. Although some misguided pundits and politicians have chosen to attack you rather than the problem, you have remained committed to your principles and vision. Make no mistake, however, most of those who profit from the proliferation of guns and the political campaign funding that goes with it have provided little or no evidence that they are now open to enacting reasonable changes in our gun laws or systems.
There are those with public voices who choose to portray your (our) position as a zero sum game. They argue that what we stand for is offensive to the Second Amendment and calls for the government to ban the rights of law abiding citizens to own guns. Don’t let these voices speak for you, especially in light of the fact that they are deliberately misstating our position. They are experts at using hyperbole and fear to avoid change to a system that benefits them. The problem is, however, that there is evidence and data that shows that lives can be saved without infringing on the Second Amendment.
Massachusetts had the lowest gun death rate in the country in 2016 of 3.5 per 100,000 and earned the number 1 gun safety rank. Massachusetts has managed to drastically reduce gun deaths in their state by adopting 4 of seven common sense laws, while Missouri has enacted none of the seven laws, Missouri, by contrast was ranked 45 with a gun death rate of 18.78 per 100,000 . Kansas has a gun safety rank of 29 with 13.17 deaths per 100,000 while enacting none of the seven laws while Illinois ranks 15 with 11.64 deaths per 100,000 after enacting one of the seven laws. (“Seven Steps. 27,000 Lives,” The Boston Globe, March 23, 2018) The lower gun death rate in Massachusetts can be significantly attributed to common sense gun laws the state began to pass and implement at least two decades ago. And, so far, after so long, there has been no reported revolution or revolt in Massachusetts by mobs of gun owners protesting the abrogation of the Second Amendment in that state.
Although the number of gun deaths can be influenced by multiple factors such as the rate of ownership, education, and economic well-being, clearly common sense laws can both co-exist with the Second Amendment and help to save lives. Shouldn’t saving lives be a governmental goal and priority or is it all about the money?
I want you to know that although I can’t be with you for the walkout commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting on the 20th, I will remain with you as we continue to fight for our lives for the years to come. I join your efforts to make your schools safer but I also join your efforts as a means to hopefully stop the daily slow motion mass murders on the streets of our city. Make no mistake that although it may take years to make effective change in our laws and attitude about guns, it is a fight worth having and a goal worth achieving. If we stay committed, continue to stand together, and VOTE responsibly, we can and will save lives.
I wish you the best and proudly support your efforts.
Mayor Sly James