Three Missouri lawmakers are leading a bipartisan effort to criminalize celebratory gunfire. Their bills would create what is called “Blair’s Law,” in honor of 11 year-old Blair Shanahan Lane, who was killed by an errant bullet fired during a 4th of July celebration in 2011.
Representatives Rory Rowland (D-Independence), Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon), and Mark Sharp (D-Kansas City) have filed House Bills 722, 795, and 99, respectively. Those were presented to the House Committee on General Laws, which heard from Blair’s mother, Michele Shanahan DeMoss.
“It will be 10 years, July of 2021, since my daughter was fatally struck by a bullet,” said Shanahan DeMoss.
She said her daughter died July 5 and donated six organs to five people.
“She gave, as I’m asking you to give the opportunity for this bill to be passed. It’s a simple request to increase the penalty from a misdemeanor – basically, to me, a parking ticket. A fine, and go on your way, and it happens year after year after year,” said Shanahan DeMoss. “If we can increase the penalty of the crime maybe, maybe somebody doesn’t do it.”
Representative Schroer said as he was growing up his family sometimes went to the basement during times of celebration because guns were being fired into the air in the region.
“One of the pillars of responsible gun ownership is knowing where you’re pointing your gun and knowing where that projectile is going to go and where it’s going to land,” said Schroer.
Representative Sharp said between 6pm December 31 and 6am on January 1 in South Kansas City Missouri, at least 12 residences were hit by indiscriminate gunfire.
He said the shot spotter technology employed by police, “indicated about 1,600 shots were fired in Kansas City alone.”
Captain Kari Thompson is the Assistant Division Commander for the Homeland Security Division of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. She said the legislation would make a common sense change in the law.
“The question is not ‘if’ this will happen again, it’s ‘when.’ We want to remember that this is, for some families, a family tradition. Let’s go out on the porch or in the back yard and shoot off our weapons in a celebratory manner for 4th of July, for New Year’s Eve, and now for Super Bowl Sundays,” said Thompson.
Blair was hit in the neck by a bullet fired by a Kansas City man, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He served 18 months in prison. Had one of these measures been in place he could’ve faced additional prison time for the charge it would create.
The committee has not voted on the legislation.
DeMoss = dee-moss
Kari = CAR-ee
Schroer = shroe-ur
Rory Rowland = roar-ee roe-land