KANSAS CITY, Mo. – KC Mayor Sly James and Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte teamed up on the issue of gun control by releasing a op-ed the two wrote together. Their words lobby for the passage of a bill that would put tougher restrictions on purchasing and owning guns.
The mayor brought up a very high-profile murder case to make his point. Last August, a young mother and daughter were gunned down inside their own home.
"Damiah was three years old when she and her mother were basically gunned down by some idiot in their home this past fall," Mayor James said during his State of the City Address.
Myeisha Turner and Damiah White were two of more than 100 people murdered in Kansas City in 2013. They were in a group of 85% of all homicides where the victims were killed with a handgun.
"Simply put, our crime rate is too high and has been far too long, but we can't just stand around, shrug our shoulders and say, 'Oh well,'" Mayor James said.
The mother and daughter's case was used to highlight the mayor's support of a bill that would require universal background checks before a gun can be purchased, and make the reporting of lost or stolen handguns mandatory.
"Nothing in those proposals limits the rights of reasonable, law-abiding citizens from owning guns, but we just might keep some idiot from getting an illegal gun from gunning down three year olds in their homes," Mayor James said.
Pamela Jones' son Kevin was also murdered in 2013. She said the culprits are the same three people who killed Myeisha and Damiah. Jones said none would legally be able to possess a gun because of their criminal history.
"Let the people who can get them, let them be entitled to get them to protect themselves and their family," Jones said.
But while the mayor and Chief Forte say the bill may have prevented the senseless murder of a three-year-old, among others, Park University criminal justice professor and former Kansas City cop John Hamilton says prevention is the missing piece.
"It wont stop it completely, and again, I think that's what takes it back to my thoughts about expectations. If you expect this to cure the problem, then you've set it up for failure," Hamilton said.
Jones said that the three men responsible for killing her son, Myeisha and Damiah have not been charged with those crimes, but are either in federal or local custody on unrelated charges. As for the bill, it had its second reading in the Missouri House last week.