KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The mayors of Missouri’s two biggest cities say they’re working together to get the state legislature to pass tougher gun laws.
Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James said he and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay want more power to regulate guns in their towns. But, many rural leaders disagree and say restricting second amendment rights won’t curb gun violence.
There are already 16 homicides on the books in Kansas City this year. Mayor James says now is the time to act.
“No place is safe from violence when we have a proliferation of illegal guns and people who don’t use common sense,” he said.
Mayor James spent Monday in Jefferson City. His spokesman says he was there in part to push for new, tougher gun laws.
“I also think we need to be looking hard at severe penalties for the use of guns in cities and in crimes,” James said. “I’d like to see the state legislature give us the ability in a city like this city like St. Louis to regulate how guns are used in our cities.”
But Johnson County, Mo., Sheriff Charles Heiss said there are already too many laws in place that aren’t being enforced.
“Is it necessary to pass additional legislation place, enact more laws, place more laws on the books,” he said. “If we’re not doing a good job with enforcing the laws that already exist?”
In January Sheriff Heiss sent a letter to President Obama. In it he says, “Any attempt to restrict these Second Amendment rights through executive order is unconstitutional and tantamount to an all out assault on the United States Constitution.”
Before taking or regulating a gun, Sheriff Heiss said the public need to take a closer look at the people pulling the trigger.
“We cannot afford to ignore the elephant in the room and the elephant in the room is the fact that our mental health system in this country is broken,” he said.
Mayor James said with some of the highest murder rates in the country, something has to change.
“This is different than rural Missouri,” he said. “We have different issues. We have a lot of problems, and it would help if we could do something about it but our hands are somewhat tied.”
In his letter, Sheriff Heiss said it is his duty and responsibility “to protect and preserve the individual rights and liberties afforded and guaranteed to every citizen by our constitutions.”
“There’s a chasm that exists between that urban core and that folks out here in rural America where guns quite frankly are a way of life,” he said.