It’s Way Past Time to Wage War on Gun Violence

By Joe Sweeney

The Valentine’s Day mass shooting that tarnished a citywide celebration of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVIII victory prompted Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves to declare afterward: “I’m angry at what happened today. The people who came to this celebration should expect a safe environment.” She couldn’t have been more right.

Then this from Mayor Quentin Lucas: “This is absolutely a tragedy, the likes of which we never would have expected in Kansas City.” He couldn’t have been more wrong.

I’m not going to blame the mayor for the mindless rampages we’ve seen over the past four years that have produced one record-setting year for homicides after another. But it’s time for him to stop with the platitudes and start responding with focused and assertive action.

Let’s be brutally honest here: More than 800 police officers from multiple jurisdictions were on hand Feb. 14 to provide security and crowd control for the parade down Grand Boulevard and the rally outside Union Station.

Nine seconds after the rally ended, gunfire erupted west of the station, leaving one woman dead and 22 adults and mostly children wounded. Frankly, another 1,000 police on the scene could not have prevented that tragedy. The fact is, staffing at that level would merely be an act of slamming the barn door, because the cows were already out.

It’s time to round them up. Remember, just a few weeks ago, and a few hundred yards away, another “dispute” set off gunfire in Crown Center, thanks to those who believe that any perceived act of disrespect is best answered with a Glock.

The mayor and civic leaders must take an honest approach to the real issue: weapons in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

Look, it wasn’t the 2nd Amendment that wrought this carnage, and it wasn’t the NRA. It sure as hell wasn’t any one of the millions of law-abiding gun owners in this country who faithfully live up to their responsibilities and take them seriously.

It was simple thuggery. And we’ve tolerated it for far too long. It’s time to declare war on those who would do us harm, find the resources and will to go after those who refuse to abide by the many and layered gun-ownership restrictions that already exist in this country.

That’s on the local law-enforcement end. Jefferson City and Topeka can help the cause by dramatically expanding the penalties for use of a firearm in a criminal action. We simply must make the consequence of misusing or illegally possessing a firearm vastly more painful than any perceived benefit.

I suspect most of those who legally own weapons will have no problem seeing life made miserable for those who flaunt the law. So, yes, I believe this can be done without abridging anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights. But it all starts with leadership, and iron will.

Politically charged topics such as abortion rights and the right to bear arms produce passionate advocates for and against each side. What I hope could be achieved, even if this is a regional effort, is for policy makers to understand and agree that not only is there a major problem with gun violence and record-setting homicides, but that the problems are getting worse every year in the face of weak response. This has been a non-stop topic of discussion since about 2 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.

I believe that the Kansas City Police Department and supporting agencies did a very good job managing the assembly of hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic citizens, including a fair number of over-imbibers, who gathered in celebration. It wouldn’t have mattered if there was twice the number of officers on duty that day. It’s nearly impossible to protect people from a one-in-a-million whacko. This was a day of celebration and spirit to commemorate the inordinate achievement of the Chiefs in the most remarkable run through the playoffs we may ever see. And that was taken from us by one or a few cowards.

Heroes Among Us

This edition includes our 21st class of Heroes in Healthcare and we’re proud to bring to 441 the number of honorees since this program began in 2004. We’ll soon host an awards breakfast to recognize this year’s Heroes in Healthcare, and, we’ll recognize and thank first responders and medical teams that saved lives on Feb. 14 (pg. 35).

Our offices are north of the tracks at Union Station and we’ve hosted thousands of guests over the years. Some consider it their destination for gathering with family, friends, clients and to enjoy BBQ, beverages and bathrooms. A large factor in selecting this location was its unique relationship to Union Station and KC’s epicenter of events, parades and celebrations. Feb. 14 was no different as we hosted and entertained many. Everyone was enjoying a great day outdoors as the kids played football or cornhole. Life was good.

When the shots were fired, about 800 feet to our south, law enforcement rushed in. One police vehicle raced down Wyandotte Street in a remarkable high-speed pursuit. Sirens were everywhere. Within minutes, Ingram’s became the gathering place for some separated from their families and many other concerned fans.

A large TV viewable from the street became the gathering spot for broadcast coverage. We were glad to help, and glad for the massive presence of law enforcement. We’d be happier to know that real steps were being taken to prevent a recurrence.

Let’s take back our city. Not with political rhetoric, but with genuine action and severe consequences. We can’t tolerate possession of a firearm by someone who is either mentally unstable or a career criminal. Outrage without action is quite literally killing us.

About the author


Joe Sweeney

Editor-In-Chief & Publisher


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *