This website is best viewed in a browser that supports web standards.

Skip to content or, if you would rather, Skip to navigation.


News Brief

Feb. 15, 2024 |  By: Rudi Keller - Missouri Independent

After Kansas City mass shooting, Missouri Democrats demand stricter gun laws

a gun

By Rudi Keller - Missouri Independent

Before state Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern left home Wednesday for the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory celebration, she took a marker and wrote her husband’s telephone number on her sons’ arms.

A former high school teacher, Nurrenbern said in an interview with The Independent, it was a precaution she learned during active shooter drills.

We’re living in this world of mass shootings, and we have to be prepared and so as a mom, those are my steps in case the kids were separated,” said Nurrenbern, a Kansas City Democrat.

Her husband Gregg took their boys from their home in Clay County to the parade, while Nurrenbern, with her sister, went to Union Station for the pep rally that followed. The celebration had just wrapped up and she was lingering with other lawmakers and VIPs near the stage when gunfire erupted.

“What I heard first was the yells and the screams of people running,” Nurrenbern said. “And unfortunately, this is so common now that you don’t stop and ask questions, ‘what’s going on?’ You just start running.”

When the shooting stopped, one person was dead and 22 others wounded, including nine children. Lisa Lopez-Galvan, a Johnson County, Kansas, mother of two and a Kansas City radio personality, died of her wounds, the Kansas City Star reported.

Very little information is known about the adult and two juveniles detained after the shooting. The Kansas City Star, quoting Police Chief Stacey Graves, reported Thursday that the shooting stemmed from a personal dispute and was not an attack on the celebration.

Missouri elected officials reacted with horror to the mass shooting that shattered Kansas City’s joy over the Chiefs’ repeat Super Bowl victory. But they differed along partisan lines about a path forward on gun violence.

That was true even among those fleeing in terror as shots rang out, which included Democratic and Republicans. Democrats are demanding stricter gun safety laws, while Republicans focused on blaming the shooting on criminals and immigrants.

In a radio interview Thursday morning, Gov. Mike Parson said the perpetrators were “just a bunch of criminals, thugs out there.”

Parson was present when the gunfire erupted and like other VIPs, ran for safety under protection of law enforcement. He was scheduled to speak to reporters Thursday afternoon about deployment of Missouri National Guard troops to Texas for border duty, but the press conference was canceled. 

Nurrenbern was back in Jefferson City on Thursday morning for a public hearing on her bill to allow out-of-state law enforcement officers to work at the 2026 World Cup events in Kansas City. There were 800 officers working the parade route and rally, she said, and while extra help will be needed for the massive World Cup crowds, more law enforcement won’t be enough to prevent a repeat tragedy.

A small step, she said, would be to give local jurisdictions more power to regulate firearms.

“It’s time that the states truly allow local jurisdictions to make their own laws and regulations about what’s good for that jurisdiction,” Nurrenbern said. “We have got to recognize the mass of people and how quickly so many people can be shot in a single instance.”

House Speaker Dean Plocher, however, at his weekly news conference Thursday refused to discuss any possible legislative response to the shooting.

“We certainly offer our thoughts and prayers to those that suffered and lost their lives,” Plocher said.

Pressed to discuss the shootings, Plocher said he wants to wait for the investigation to be completed. 

“This is an unfolding investigation,” he said. “I’m going to reserve comment.”

On Tuesday, the House gave first-round approval to a bill making it illegal to discharge a firearm within the limits of a municipality, imposing a possible penalty of up to a year in jail for a first offense. Called “Blair’s Law,” Republican state Rep. Lane Roberts of Joplin said it is intended to stop celebratory gunfire from hurting people.

The bill is 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.

When asked whether legislation was needed to address intentional gunfire, Plocher again said he didn’t want to discuss the Kansas City shootings.

“Laws alone don’t solve the problem,” Plocher said.

Missouri gun protections

Missouri has some of the laxest firearms laws in the country and a Republican legislative supermajority that is openly hostile to gun regulations. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranks Missouri as having the third-weakest gun laws in the nation.

Missouri began allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons in 2003, requiring training and a permit issued by the county sheriff. In 2007, the law requiring a permit to buy a handgun was repealed.

The repeal of permit to purchase led to at least a 25%, and as much as a 47%, increase in firearms homicides and a 23.5% increase in firearms suicides in Missouri in the years since it passed, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

In 2016, the state repealed the permit requirement to carry a concealed weapon and passed a law barring local governments from banning the open carry of guns for people who do go through the concealed weapon permit process.

In 2021, Republican votes carried to passage a bill called the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” which declared federal gun laws were unenforceable in the state and imposed financial penalties on Missouri police that cooperate with federal authorities to enforce national gun laws.

And last year, the Missouri House voted down a proposal to ban children from carrying guns without adult supervision in public, with all but one Republican voting against it.

Even with the political scales tipped against gun regulation, Nurrenbern said there are things lawmakers should be able to agree on.

She and her fellow Kansas City Democrat, state Sen. Lauren Arthur, have proposed a bill to prevent people convicted of domestic violence from possessing firearms. Her bill hasn’t been referred to  a committee.

“That is non-controversial, has had bipartisan support for years and it hasn’t moved,” Nurrenbern said.

Arthur, who was also at the Union Station rally on Wednesday when gunfire broke out, said the scenes she witnessed should spur action.

“I saw children frightened,” Arthur said. “Kansas Citians are devastated today. A woman is dead. And over the last 10 years, Missouri Republicans have passed laws loosening gun access, and unsurprisingly, we’ve seen rates of violent crimes and involving guns spike.”

Lawmakers were among VIPs transported to Union Station in school buses and given a prime viewing location for the rally. In the aftermath, Arthur used social media to assure people she was safe after sheltering in the basement.

“Thank you to the brave law enforcement officers who ran towards the gun shots and helped guide us to safety,” Arthur wrote. “My heart breaks for the victims and for our town.”

Senate Majority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin, a Shelbina Republican, was also there. In an interview with The Independent, she said she doesn’t see a reason to pass new gun regulations.

“I felt terrible about what happened,” O’Laughlin said. “But we live in a free society. And there’s only so much you can do to ensure safety.”

Stricter gun laws would not change the behavior of criminals, O’Laughlin said.

“When you have a million people converging into a location, and if someone is just determined to create mayhem, I’m not sure how you stop it,” O’Laughlin said.

Arguing that new laws don’t work to stop bad behavior sounds odd coming from a legislator, Arthur said.

“If laws didn’t work, why do we pass laws banning anything, including books,” Arthur said, referring to legislation passed in 2022 to ban “sexually explicit material” in school libraries.

Only election losses related to opposition to tighter gun laws would alter the political dynamic, Arthur said.

“The truth is they don’t care,” she said. “They don’t care about this problem. They don’t care about the people who are harmed by it because look at the callous tone that they’ve taken towards those people who have been hurt.”

Social media reaction

The social media postings by lawmakers in the hours after the shootings reflected many of the political divisions that have marked the gun debate in Missouri.

In his first post-shooting social media post, Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo of Independence thanked the Kansas City police and first responders. 

We need common sense gun safety laws & we need them now,” he added. “It’s not about politics, it’s about the kind of world we want for our kids.”

Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, a Columbia Republican, didn’t address legislative questions in his post. 

“Our hearts go out to the victims of today’s heinous act of cowardice in Kansas City,” Rowden wrote

Although the names of those arrested have not been released, members of the Freedom Caucus – a Republican faction that has been at war with leadership all year – used social media platforms to blame the shooting on immigrants.

​​”I’d hope this first-hand experience with violent illegal immigrants & repeat violent offenders—children shot at a parade—will help them see the urgent need to close our borders, stop promoting Sanctuary Cities to violent illegal immigrants & end liberal catch & release policies for violent criminals,” state Sen. Denny Hoskins, a Warrensburg Republican wrote in response to a post from Arthur calling for stricter gun laws.

Kansas City police have not identified any of the people in custody and Hoskins appeared to have based his post on an identification made by a right-wing anti-immigration account. 

At least two Kansas City-area Republicans were excoriated by other social media users for posts that did not address the suffering Wednesday’s victims.

“Had a great time at the chiefs Super Bowl parade,” state Rep. Chris Lonsdale, a Republican from Liberty, wrote on social media more than two hours after the shootings.

Nurrenbern said it was worse than insensitive.

I was really sick to see that and really ticked off,” she said.

And state Sen. Rick Brattin, a Harrisonville Republican who is a member of the Freedom Caucus, chided fellow senators for taking the day off to attend the parade and rally.

“I did not attend the parade, because we should have been doing the work the people elected us to do,” Brattin posted on social media more than five hours after the shooting. “Not parading around.”

In turn, Senate Democrats attacked Brattin.

“People Rick works with everyday had to run for their lives during the most horrific mass shooting in Missouri history,” the Democrats wrote on social media. “But Rick thinks his colleagues and coworkers had it coming because they went to a parade.”

Brattin bristled at that response, writing in a second post that he was only talking about the need to work on pending legislation.

Just before 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Brattin issued a post with sympathy for the victims:

“My prayers are with the families impacted by the shooting in Kansas City.”