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Mayor and police beg Kansas City not to celebrate New Year's Eve with gunfire

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Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga
/
KCUR 89.3
Mayor Quinton Lucas speaks at the Kansas City Police Department headquarters, urging Kansas Citians not to start 2022 with gun violence.

After a near-record year for homicides, Mayor Quinton Lucas urges Kansas Citians to start the new year right: without deaths due to celebratory gunfire.

Five shootings the week of Christmas made 2021 one of the deadliest years in Kansas City history.

As of Friday morning, there had been 157 homicides in Kansas City, Missouri, according to the Kansas City Star, making 2021 second only to 2020 when there were 182 homicide victims. The Star reported 244 homicides metro-wide.

As the year came to an end, Mayor Quinton Lucas and members of the Kansas City Police Department urged people not to celebrate New Year’s Eve with gunfire.

“People think they're celebrating, but instead they're creating significant challenges for our community and for their neighbors,” said Lucas.

He said it is best to leave guns out of a celebration completely. He said everyone, especially people going to busy areas such as Westport or the Power and Light District, should leave their guns at home and not in a car, as gun theft from vehicles has been on the rise.

Lucas and KCPD Sgt. Jake Becchina both stressed how important it is for people to call 911 if they hear gunshots.

“Even if you're in a neighborhood where you've heard gunshots before, or you think regularly, please call 911,” said Lucas. “Please make sure that our police department knows about the firing that's going on so we can make sure that we're sending out resources and so that communities can be safe.”

Over the past two years, Becchina said, KCPD has received more calls about celebratory gunfire than years prior. He said the department will be prepared to respond.

“We will have a full complement of police officers out on New Year's Eve that are answering calls for service to include gunfire calls,” said Becchina. “So the more information they can get, the more effective they can be and the safer they can do their job.”

Firing a gun in city limits is illegal, and if a person is convicted they could face misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Becchina said charges could be even worse if a person kills or injures another with celebratory gunfire, or if there’s property damage.

“What goes up must come down. Those rounds come back down to earth at a similar speed that they leave the barrel of the gun at. So that velocity can be very, very high in some cases enough to severely damage property, break windows, put holes in roofs as well as hurt or even kill animals or people that are outside,” said Becchina.

“When those rounds come back down, when you shoot your gun off in the air, you don't get to decide where that round goes. It will travel, sometimes as many as hundreds, if not over a thousand yards, and hurt, injure, or kill other people.”

Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga is a freelance reporter for KCUR 89.3.
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