JEFFERSON CITY – The bipartisan Blair’s Law bills are having their first committee hearing Wednesday.
Blair Lane was 11 years old when she was shot in the neck by celebratory gunfire on the Fourth of July in 2011.
Blair’s mother, Michele DeMoss, approached Rep. Rory Rowland to spearhead a set of bills that make celebratory gun fire a felony. From there, it’s taken off.
House Bill’s 1893, 2169, and 2087 have all been assigned to the general laws committee on February 13.
KCPD are testifying in favor of the bills today. DeMoss, was unable to attend the hearing, but Rep. Rowland said DeMoss sent a written statement, urging the importance of this bill.
“In this case, there was a gun owner that was charged with a felony ONLY because Blair died,” DeMoss wrote in her statement. “She held the slug in her neck until it could be retrieved and the Kansas City Crime lab matched the bullet to the 9 mm Glock gun that was used that night.”
Rep. Mark Sharp said that celebratory gun fire is typical for Kansas City.
“Celebratory gun fire is really just like a norm, it’s a tradition in Kansas City,” Rep. Sharp said. “It wasn’t until I moved to Atlanta for school and worked in Dallas for a little while where I realized ’oh, this is not just an everywhere thing, it’s really a Kansas City thing.”
Back in November, Governor Mike Parson addressed the issue of gun violence. He said he wants the government to focus on are keeping guns out of the hands of minors, domestic abusers, and violent offenders.
The Missourian reported the state has filed 72 gun related bills. There are 20 bills sponsored by Democrats that restrict the use of guns. For Republican sponsored bills, there are 28 that expand the use of guns.
However, these bipartisan bills are the only ones getting any real traction. Rep. Sharp recognizes the fact that more gun-control bills need to be heard, but they need to be careful.
“With the position that we’re in we have to be very flexible in the bills that we’re having heard, and the reality of what’s going to happen if those bills aren’t ever referred to committee,” Rep. Sharp said.
Rep. Sharp shared his frustration with being the super minority in state.
“It’s just very challenging to get some of these bills not only referred, because we only have on democrat that’s chair of a committee,” Rep. Sharp said.
But this bill has a different meaning.
“I believe that more people would report the crime if the punishment was more severe,” DeMoss wrote. “There were more than 20 people at a nearby pool, if just one person had called 911 the night of the 4th of July, 2011, Blair may still be here.”
Rep. Rowland said a bill very similar to this passed in Arizona, so the NRA shouldn’t have an issue with it here. Rep. Rowland said he urges his fellow legislators to support this bill.
Rep. Nick Schroer said he’s been in contact with the NRA and they’re 100% receptive to this bill.
“This is going to prove groups like the NRA or gun owners of America are wanting responsible gun ownership,” Rep. Schroer said. “There’s a lot of gun spotter technology where even the law enforcement can see how many gun shots occurred in a vicinity. These tools that are out there are going to allow this bill to actually have some teeth.”