Missouri lawmakers propose ‘Blair’s Law’ again after veto

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers are once again introducing a bill to impose tougher penalties for people who fire celebratory gunshots. 

But after it was vetoed as part of a larger crime bill earlier this year, this time it appears “Blair’s Law” will stand on its own.

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Missouri state Reps. Mark Sharp (D-Kansas City) and Sherri Gallick (R-Belton) have each pre-filed bills to establish Blair’s Law across the state.

It’s named after 11-year-old Blair Shanahan Lane, who was killed on the Fourth of July in 2011 after someone in Kansas City shot bullets into the sky.

Under Blair’s Law, it would be a crime of unlawful discharge of a firearm to shoot a gun with criminal negligence within a city’s limits. 

“It’s hard, but for a few weeks in July, it’s harder,” Blair’s mom, Michele Shanahan DeMoss, said this summer. “It deserves to be a law. People that commit that crime deserve to have a punishment greater than just basically a parking ticket.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Mike Parson vetoed a crime bill that included Blair’s Law; it was the only bill on his desk that he rejected.

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But the governor said it wasn’t Blair’s Law that he disagreed agree with. Instead, it was the other provisions in the omnibus bill, which contained multiple provisions in one legislation. 

“The reality of it is, you have to do the right thing sometimes, even when it’s not the most popular thing,” Parson said in a July interview. “Blair’s Law was never the issue.”

The large crime bill included removing the salary cap for the Kansas City Police Department for all officers, streamlining the expungement process, compensate people who have been wrongfully convicted and create a restitution system for people whose convictions are overturned. 

“I’m not sure why every taxpayer in the state of Missouri is responsible for that, why the state is responsible for it, especially when it was a local crime and a local issue,” Parson said in July.

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DeMoss previously said she was hoping to see Blair’s Law filed as a standalone bill in 2024. Parson has expressed support for the bill in the past if lawmakers can get it to his desk.

Missouri lawmakers are only pre-filing bills Friday ahead of the upcoming 2024 legislative session, which begins Jan. 3. More legislation is often filed in election years, so 2024 will likely be a busy year at the state capitol.

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