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Kansas City is fighting escalating gun violence

25 years ago today, several people died in a school massacre in Columbine, Colorado. Columbine has since become synonymous with deadly gun violence. In Kansas City, an initiative is fighting for more security.

Sebastian Hesse

Kansas City, Missouri, suffered the deadliest year in its history in 2023. In February, fatal shots were fired at the Super Bowl parade for the local football team, the Kansas City Chiefs. In the city of 500,000 in the Midwest, new ways are now being taken to get the escalation of violence under control.

Drugs, shootings, prison

“We have a problem with gun violence in Kansas City,” says Johnny Waller. And he should know: The broad-shouldered African-American, now in his forties, looks back on a rather rough start in life.

Johnny was in a gang, dealt drugs, was shot, was involved in shootings himself, was in prison. But then he got the hang of it, studied and founded two companies.

There are hardly any role models like Johnny in Kansas City. Only a few manage to leave the gang environment. From a world in which the fight for survival is fought with firearms. Johnny is now trying to help others out of the spiral of violence: With his story he is perceived as credible.

Gunshots at the Super Bowl ceremony in Kansas City in mid-February left 20 people injured and one woman dead.

Gun control laws abolished in Missouri

He says we have to address the causes: poverty, unemployment, education. Anyone who goes astray in Kansas City will be put on trial by Jean Peters-Baker and her colleagues. Peters-Baker is the chief prosecutor for Jackson County. The Democrat complains that the state of Missouri abolished all gun control laws in 2017: no more background checks when purchasing weapons, no age restrictions.

The public prosecutor complains that anyone can carry a sharp weapon with them at any time and in any place without being bothered. She calculates that the number of fatal shootings and accidents involving firearms has skyrocketed since total liberalization.

Initiative for greater safety when handling weapons

In the years before 2017, the murder rate in Kansas City was nowhere near where it is today. In order to reduce the numerous accidents involving sharp weapons, of which children often fall victim, Maribeth Brennaman and her colleagues launched an initiative six years ago: “Grandparents for Gun Safety”.

“We provide high-quality gun locks free of charge,” says Maribeth. These gun locks, which can be used to lock the trigger of firearms, are being distributed free of charge, over 6,000 so far.

Without the gun lock initiative, Maribeth is certain that the number of gun deaths in Kansas City would be even higher than the 182 victims last year.

Sebastian Hesse, ARD Washington, tagesschau, April 20, 2024 10:19 a.m

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