KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — Right now, there are no state laws that prohibit minors from owning guns.
The pair of ordinances the committee passed Wednesday will close some of the loopholes in the federal laws.
“The goal is very simple to make our community safer,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said.
With nearly 100 homicides in Kansas City so far this year, leaders are doing whatever they can to try and put an end to gun violence.
“Currently there is no law in the state of Missouri that makes it illegal for a minor to have a handgun or a weapon. It is illegal under federal law, however its generally not something that the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. asks the U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country to prosecute,” Judge Jane Pansing Brown, General Council to Mayor Lucas, said.
Two new ordinances passed Wednesday, aim to give Kansas City the power to bridge the gaps not covered by federal and state laws. They deal directly with kids and guns.
“Frankly, if you pick up a gun at 15 not only are you more likely to actually die yourself or be injured by it, you’re more likely to be wrapped up in the system later on. We’re trying to avoid that today,” Lucas said.
Erikka French has four kids under the age of 16 and worries everyday about their safety. She understands the ordinances are a first step but hopes more can be done.
“I think we need to reach out to the state and federal people and let them know Kansas City, not just us everywhere in the United States, it’s a gun violence problem. Let’s stop the problem, not feed the problem,” French said.
Here’s how city leaders hope the new measures help.
The juvenile ordinance picks up where federal laws leave off making it illegal for minors to have guns in places outside of the federal law’s exceptions, like federal buildings. Minors caught with guns could face a fine, diversionary program, probation or up to 30 days in jail.
The adult ordinance makes it illegal to give a gun to a minor without parent consent. The punishment is a fine or up to six months in jail.
Captain Scott Simons with the Kansas City Police Department talked about why that’s important.
“We discovered that both of them were armed with handguns, they were both minors. Had we stopped them 50 feet prior to where we stopped them we probably wouldn’t have been able to do much with them because of the way the laws are,” Simons said.
Lucas says the goal is not to punish kids, but to put them in the right path.
Both ordinances still need to be approved by the full council. Lucas says the city has license plate readers and plans to install more. They’re considering more police, and will keep working with schools, and prosecutors to teach conflict resolution and create counseling opportunities.