INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Independence City Council will introduce an ordinance Monday prohibiting minors from carrying handguns and other deadly weapons.
The proposal is modeled after similar legislation enacted by the Kansas City Council last month.
“Local municipalities have to do what they can to limit the amount of guns that our youth have,” said Damon Daniel, executive director of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime.
Making gun violence a regional priority makes sense to Ad Hoc.
By mirroring Kansas City’s firearm restrictions on minors, Independence leaders believe they’re sending a message that teens carrying guns won’t find a safe haven in their community.
“The level of violence among our youth that we have and the level of those that carry guns, on the one hand it’s very frustrating,” Daniel said. “But it`s also frightening to think about all the underage youth that we have in our community who have access to guns.”
Independence police also have established a gun squad that’s getting help from two federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents.
The law enforcement effort will focus on tracking illegal guns, while community groups like Ad Hoc concentrate their attention on preventing children from wanting to carry guns.
“Parents have to ask the question: Why are our youth carrying guns to begin with?” Daniel said. “What do we do when we find youth with these guns beyond what local government can do in terms of implementing some consequences? There still has to be some solutions involved in that.”
Daniel said more than one out of three homicide victims are young people under the age of 24.
He believes strengthening communities and the home life for teens before they’re on their own is critical to preventing them from reaching for guns.
The proposed changes to Independence’s Safe Streets regulations are expected to be approved next month.