We can’t let ‘idiots with illegal guns’ ruin Kansas City

08/02/2013 9:43 AM

08/03/2013 5:42 PM

A recent spate of violence involving people whom Mayor Sly James calls

“idiots with illegal guns” running around Kansas City is getting lots of people worried — and angry.

Just in the last week, a

woman was shot in midtown

when she resisted demands by a man who wanted to steal a $10 Union Station gift she had in a bag; two other womens’ purses were taken in the incident.

A man with a stolen gun

was arrested in an incident

near the Power Light District, and police killed another man who was with him when they thought he was pointing a gun at officers.

Plus several other incidents involving gun violence occurred in East Side neighborhoods; Police Chief Darryl Forte

is keeping track

of the large majority of murders caused by guns in that and other parts of Kansas City.

In the midst of all this, one woman who was a friend of the man killed by police said, “Every young man in Kansas City has a gun.”

That's a chilling thought, because too many of them are prone to use the weapons for illegal purposes.

The woman continued, “There are a lot of idiots out here and you have to defend yourself.”

There's that word again: “idiots.”

Mayor James’ desire for more power to pass stronger gun laws in Kansas City will go nowhere as long as the Missouri legislature retains all power to effectively veto them.

So what's the effect of the shootings?

The police killing a man on a weekend night near the Power Light District creates bad publicity for the entertainment district that Kansas City officials want to see continue to thrive.

To state the obvious: If the suburban people who flock to the district, especially on the weekends, become afraid to come down there because of the threat of violent crime, that’s going to be a big economic problem for the downtown area.

But — and this is important — a single bad incident and even a string of them over the last few years near the district have not led to a huge black eye for the entertainment area. In a way, it seems oddly comforting that people realize crime problems may occur in and near the district, but they are willing to take that risk to come downtown to have a good time.

On a totally different scale, the people who live in some of the most violent East Side neighborhoods also live with the fear of being a victim of crime, especially of “idiots with illegal guns” too many days during the year.

The shootings that occur in those neighborhoods already cause economic problems, forcing people to leave as well as reducing the property values of the people who stay.

There’s no magic to solve this problem.

The mayor is pushing jobs and education as ways to get people away from lives of crime. But those are long-term fixes.

The police also are trying different initiatives, some aimed at getting illegal guns off the street and putting in jail the really hard-core criminals. Again, easier said than done.

Plus, because of the gun-friendly laws in Missouri that encourage people to carry around weapons, there are always more guns to steal, more to use in illegal ways.

Yes, I’m sure Kansas City will survive the latest wave of gun violence, as it has survived others.

But the cumulative effect takes away from some of the enjoyment of living in this city, and certainly makes many people have second thoughts about living, working or playing in Kansas City.

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