City council wants to send anti-violence message to Jeff City

 By Joe Lambe

The city council will consider supporting anti-violence actions – including a slap at a state gun law – suggested by the Kansas City Health Commission.

John Sharp, chairman of the council public safety committee, said Wednesday he will prepare a resolution to introduce next week.

It will be for what the health commission recommended in its own recent resolution, which aims to attack violence as a preventable contagious disease.

Rex Archer, city health director, on Wednesday told the council committee, “These are behavior issues and public health has decades of dealing with behavior; There are long standing cultural issues we’ve got to address.”

Their resolution, the result of months of input from citizen experts, lists five recommendations:

  • Lobby the state to eliminate laws that allow people to keep weapons in passenger compartments of cars without a permit.
  • Increase funding for anti-violence programs such as the Kansas City No Violence Alliance. NoVA targets violent offenders for prison but also provides social services to help them get out of crime.
  • Increase funding for evidence based violence prevention programs like Aim4Peace.
  • Encourage firearm injury prevention and safety education programs. Archer recently reported that the number of accidental shootings in Kansas City doubled from 2002 to 2010, going from 9.7 per 100,000 people to 19.5 per 100,000.
  • Remove city restrictions that prevent ex-offenders from working at jobs that involve handling liquor, such as bartenders, waiters or even grocery sackers.

As for the gun issue, Sharp said he shares the frustration of Mayor Sly James that the city can take little action to limit guns because state and federal laws forbid that.

But the provision allowing loaded guns willy-nilly in the passenger area of cars seems to make a mockery of state law that sets standards for concealed carry permits, Sharp said.

The city should fight for change, he said, “I don’t know if it will succeed but I would welcome the opportunity to make that argument.”

Councilman Scott Taylor said the state general assembly “is trying to promote guns; they have a gun obsession – it is a travesty.”

In another matter, Taylor said he is concerned about loosening city laws to allow felons to handle liquor.

Sharp said he does not support letting felons hold liquor licenses but does believe parolees and probationers should have access to entry level jobs that involve handling liquor.

“If they can’t get an honest job…,” he said, “they’re going to get money some way.”

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