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Hundreds rally in Kansas City for gun laws after Chiefs parade shooting: 'How many more?'

 Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense held a rally on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024; three days after a mass shooting at the end of the Chiefs victory parade rally at Union Station.
Lawrence Brooks IV
/
KCUR 89.3
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense held a rally on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024; three days after a mass shooting at the end of the Chiefs victory parade rally at Union Station.

Nearly 200 people rallied at Washington Square Park on Saturday afternoon to call on Missouri lawmakers to pass legislation to help prevent future mass shootings, like the one at Union Station that killed one person and injured 22 more on Wednesday.

Nearly 200 parents, local and state lawmakers, activists and children from Kansas and Missouri rallied on a cold Saturday afternoon just steps away from where 43-year-old Lisa Lopez-Galvan was gunned down and 22 others were injured in a shooting at the Chiefs Super Bowl victory parade at Union Station on Wednesday.

They were angry about what they described as empty platitudes from conservative politicians and the lack of urgency from Missouri lawmakers to pass sensible gun legislation in the wake of the tragedy — despite the state having the seventh-highest gun death rate in the U.S.

For more than an hour, the crowd yelled “Enough is Enough,” “Vote Them Out,” and “No More” in response to speeches from members of the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action, Mayor Quinton Lucas, First District Jackson County Legislator Manny Abarca IV and several Missouri state representatives.

“We have the freedom to be in our communities without the fear of gun violence … but we don't right now. Not in Missouri,” said Missouri House Rep. Ashley Aune, who represents Platte County. “Here's what we need in Missouri. We need universal background checks. We need safe storage laws.”

 More than 150 people rallied at Washington Square Park in Kansas City in below-freezing temperatures on Saturday, Feb. 17 to call on the Missouri legislature to pass new gun laws.
Lawrence Brooks IV
/
KCUR 89.3
More than 150 people rallied at Washington Square Park in Kansas City in below-freezing temperatures on Saturday, Feb. 17 to call on the Missouri legislature to pass new gun laws.

Aune, who is a former member of Moms Demand Action, said she’s received extreme pushback online since calling for common sense gun laws in the aftermath of the shooting.

Sarah Deeder, a Navy veteran who lives just northwest of Union Station in the Crossroads District, admitted to staying home and watching the celebration on TV because she was afraid of gun violence.

She said Missouri has a long way to go to improve its gun laws compared to the more liberal states where she was stationed during her service.

“I feel the only way that we can make change happen is to put that pressure on our lawmakers … show up and tell them that we are worth more than the money that they're lining their pockets with,” Deeder said. “We are not ‘KC Strong’ until we change our gun laws. I love the campaign and we like to say how great we are. But looking around today, we can't be proud of what's going on in our city.”

Kansas City resident and U.S. Navy veteran Sarah Deeder at the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense held a rally at Washington Square Park, across from Union Station, three days after a mass shooting that killed one and injured 22 at the end of the Chiefs victory parade on Feb. 14, 2024.
Lawrence Brooks IV
/
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City resident and U.S. Navy veteran Sarah Deeder at the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense held a rally at Washington Square Park, across from Union Station, three days after a mass shooting that killed one and injured 22 at the end of the Chiefs victory parade on Feb. 14, 2024.

Missouri has tied city officials' hands when it comes to passing meaningful gun safety laws. Local lawmakers can’t do much, if anything at all, to regulate firearms in Kansas City because of a state law that bans such ordinances.

Others who attended the parade spoke to the terror they felt after hearing gunshots ring out and watching thousands of people flee for their lives.

“It's a surreal moment now to realize that some didn't come home that night,” said Jackson County Legislator Manny Abarca IV. “To be here with my daughter unscathed, it's by the grace of God.”

News In the wake of the Chiefs parade mass shooting, some parents hesitate to bring kids to big events Diba Mohtasham

Abarca said he has reached out to Gov. Mike Parson to begin talks on potential solutions to Kansas City’s epidemic of gun violence and to craft sensible gun legislation to keep guns out of the hands of kids and violent offenders — but his requests have gone unanswered.

Instead, he said he and his team plan to hold a conversation about gun reform every Monday until Jackson County can send gun policy changes to state and local officials. He said they’ll invite County Executive Frank White, Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves and representatives from local hospitals and health departments.

“I want to talk about not just the incident that happened on Wednesday, but the other three lives that we've lost (in homicides) since then,” he said. “I don't wanna talk about fences or credentials or we should have it in the stadium, or thoughts and prayers now, mourn later. We're done.”

Cartisha Dillard, another member of Moms Demand Action, described herself as a three-time survivor of gun violence, “a title that I don’t want anyone here to ever wear, ‘cause I don’t wear it proudly.” She lost her youngest brother and oldest son to gun violence, and another brother was shot seven times but survived.

“Our lives have been forever changed because of it,” she said. “Time and time again, I have suffered the real-life consequences of Missouri’s weak gun laws.”

Moms Demand Action volunteer Cartisha Dillard speaking to a crowd of protestors at the gun safety groups rally in Kansas City's Washington Square Park on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 to call on Missouri lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws. Dillard is a self titled "three time survivor" who has lost a son and brother to gun violence. She said its a "title that I don't want anyone here to ever wear, 'cause I don't wear it proudly," and that she's "suffered the real life consequences of Missouri's weak gun laws."
Lawrence Brooks IV
/
KCUR 89.3
Moms Demand Action volunteer Cartisha Dillard speaking to a crowd of protestors at the gun safety groups rally in Kansas City's Washington Square Park on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 to call on Missouri lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws. Dillard is a self titled "three time survivor" who has lost a son and brother to gun violence. She said its a "title that I don't want anyone here to ever wear, 'cause I don't wear it proudly," and that she's "suffered the real life consequences of Missouri's weak gun laws."

Tara Bennett is a volunteer for Moms Demand Action who was also on the parade route when the shooting took place. She said Kansas Citians will continue to pay for state lawmakers’ decisions to roll back and repeal gun safety laws, despite pleas from communities all across the city.

“How many more people have to get shot before they will listen? Does it take a major shooting at an event of national and international importance?” Bennett said. “Are they any more important than the people who are killed in city gun violence on a regular basis? No.”

Bennett said Moms Demand Action also plans to put more pressure on state and federal lawmakers to make change. She said the group’s Missouri chapter will go to Jefferson City on March 27 for an advocacy – the Kansas chapter held one earlier this month in Topeka.

“We've gotta speak loudly. We've gotta speak with one voice,” she said. “We have to speak for all of the victims who can't speak, for their survivors, who are too traumatized to speak,” she said.

Copyright 2024 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Lawrence Brooks IV