KC Mayor Lucas’ gun control proposals may not survive courts, but he’s right to try | Opinion

Facebook/Mayor Quinton Lucas
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At his second inaugural on Tuesday, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced that the first thing he’s going to do this term is introduce two proposals for local firearms restrictions.

Go ahead, read that sentence again. If you didn’t know the city could do that, the truth is that he doesn’t, either.

Even though our mayor the law professor says the proposals were written in a way that gets around the maddening Missouri law that bars local governments from saving lives through local gun control measures, the legality of this move might turn out to be about as solid as that time Donald Trump announced that he could declassify documents just by thinking about it.

So, waste of time, then? No, because with a sickening 100 homicides in the first half of the hottest year in human history, this is a kitchen sink moment for fighting gun violence in Kansas City, even as Republicans in Jefferson City do their utmost to make the problem worse.

One of the proposals that Lucas announced would keep minors from buying ammunition without parental consent, and the other would ban switches, the devices that turn handguns into automatic weapons.

“I say clearly and unambiguously,” he said in his speech, “guns and ammunition being given to minors, guns in the hands of the wrong people, guns modified to be more potent” and “prohibition-era machine guns are the problem and are killing our community.”

To which we say, clearly and unambiguously, go for it, while also beefing up the needed anti-violence programs that have worked well where they’ve been well-funded. The additional $30 million for such programs approved this year will be money well spent.

If courts ultimately blocked the mayor’s ideas for local gun laws from being implemented, it would only underline how desperately we need to be able to pass our own gun restrictions, perhaps by amending the state constitution through the ballot initiative that organizers for an effort called Sensible Missouri hope to get in front of voters next November.

By then, though, how many more victims of gun violence will we have buried?

Too many, which is why we share the mayor’s impatience.

At the end of his remarks, which also touched on plans to build affordable housing, fight climate change and welcome everybody, including refugees, Lucas said he often thinks of his coach in a summer track program at 83rd and Troost that his mom signed him up for as a kid.

“The head coach was a man named Ken Ferguson who would belt out instructions all evening long, shouting ‘Accelerate! Accelerate!’ just when you were ready to give up. I came home sore each night and each night wanted to quit. My mom would never let me.”

We can’t give up, either, Lucas said, especially in addressing our most intractable problems: “We can be a place that knows life is not either/or. We can invest in prevention and alternatives to enforcement, while working with law enforcement to build safer communities.

“We know that we can be in the heart of America, but can lead with our hearts, uplifting those too long left out and too long marginalized. And we know that our humble city can be a model to a nation for how to succeed, how to support each other, and how to accelerate beyond our wildest dreams.”

Humble, no. But proud, stubborn and determined still to beat back this terrible violence, yes.