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Politics, Elections and Government

Mayor, Prosecutor Say Proposed Gun Law Changes Bad For Kansas City

Elle Moxley

Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James and other city officials gathered near 44th Street and Montgall Avenue Tuesday morning to blast gun legislation state lawmakers will consider in Jefferson City on Wednesday.

Missouri legislators already approved a package of gun law changes that would let 19-year-olds obtain concealed carry permits, bar cities from enacting open carry ordinances and allow school districts to arm designated classroom teachers.

But after Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill over the summer, lawmakers need a two-thirds majority Wednesday for the bill to become law. It's likely the votes are there to override the governor's veto.

"Simply put, this bill is dangerous. It's about politics," said James, speaking across the street from the house were he grew up. "It's not about safety."

Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR
Jackson County Jean Peters Baker says she opposes a gun bill up for a veto override vote in Jefferson City, Mo., tomorrow.

James, along with Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, Police Chief Darryl Forte, Kansas City Public Schools Supt. Stephen Green and various gun control advocacy groups, wants lawmakers to sustain Nixon's veto on Senate Bill 656.

"Does it make sense to you that you would take gun laws away from the state of Missouri to make us safer?" says Peters Baker. "You make it harder for prosecutors to get cases over the finish line and find charges, gun charges, to lobby against people who have broken the law."

Forte says if the state strikes open carry such as Kansas City's from the books, his department will have to spend more time investigating reported gun sightings.

Green says he'd prefer guns remain in the hands of the Kansas City Police Department and trained school resource officers, not classroom teachers. 

"A teacher armed is less effective as an educator," Green says. "There's law enforcement, and there's education."

James is not planning to go to Jefferson City in person but says he is in touch with local lawmakers who know how he feels.

The veto session begins at noon Wednesday.

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