Kansas City Mayor Lucas introduces gun ordinances for minors following shootings
Mayor Quinton Lucas believes he has found a creative way to help keep minors in Kansas City from possessing handguns without running afoul of Missouri statutes, he said at a news conference Thursday.
Lucas, who appeared alongside Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II Wednesday evening calling for federal action on gun control, introduced two ordinances Thursday taking local action on the issue. They’ll soon be taken up by members of the City Council.
If passed, Lucas said, the ordinances would effectively ban minors from possessing handguns and give authorities the opportunity to get them off the streets. He argued keeping young people from getting guns may also prevent them from using them as adults.
“I would suspect a lot of people who are 18 years old didn’t pick up their first gun at the age of 18,” Lucas said. “And I would think that what we’re stopping now is when someone is being indoctrinated sometimes into a life that they think they need to possess a firearm, I’m hoping that this is a break in it.”
Lucas’ statement came in response to a question about whether Deon’te Copkney, 18, who has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 25-year-old Erin Langhofer at last week’s First Friday event, might have owned the gun he is accused of using to kill Langhofer before he turned 18. Lucas said he didn’t know.
Lucas’ proposals come after a violent weekend in Kansas City and two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas. It has also been a deadly hear in Kansas City, with 87 homicides recorded as of Thursday. More than a dozen of the victims were teens.
It’s already illegal under federal law for minors to possess handguns. Missouri prohibits “recklessly” selling, leasing, loaning, giving away or delivering any firearm to a minor without parental consent.
Lucas said his ordinances relied on those laws to make it a municipal offense for a minor to possess a gun or for anyone to transfer one to a minor without parental consent.
He argued it enhanced the ability to enforce those rules.
“What we’re trying to do with this ordinance is actually allow them to have a tool that would create a municipal ordinance violation,” Lucas said, “i.e. giving you an opportunity to arrest, to seize the firearm and to have some standing to do it in a way that’s not being enforced presently with the way that state law is being read and certainly not being enforced because the federal charges often are not being brought.”
Kevin Jamison, president of the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance, said the ordinances might be helpful, though he doubted they would be significant. He said some cases dealing with minors in possession of handguns would be better-suited for municipal court than state juvenile court. Violations of Lucas’ ordinance would be dealt with in municipal court.
“Some of these cases should be handled in municipal court so we’re not giving a kid a record,” Jamison said.
State law has often befuddled Kansas City mayors who want to place tighter restrictions on gun ownership, but Jamison said it sounded like the ordinances would match state law.
He said his group would be willing to work with Lucas on gun ordinances so long as they don’t infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.
Lucas’ ordinances would only apply to handguns, not rifles, shotguns or other long guns. They also include exemptions for minors who have parental consent prior to taking possession of guns.
“This is but one step of many that I look forward to taking over the weeks and months ahead to make sure that we see less gun violence in our community,” Lucas said.