Flanked by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and Missouri State Rep. Stacey Newman along with a half dozen Kansas City area anti-violence advocates, northeast Johnson County state Rep. Barbara Bollier on Friday announced she had introduced a bill in the Kansas House that would give law enforcement the power to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who have demonstrated that they are a threat to others or themselves. Newman has introduced a similar measure in the Missouri House. Both are members of recently formed American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention.
Even as Bollier and Newman acknowledged that their bills had little hope of passing in the current political climate surrounding gun legislation, they called the bills common sense measures that could help prevent domestic violence. Bollier, a retired physician from Mission Hills, classified the more than 31,000 deaths and 74,000 non-fatal injuries from guns each year as a public health issue.
“During my campaign last year I heard from numerous people at the doorstep who said they were concerned about gun laws in Kansas,” she said. “One of the questions that we have to ask is, does the 2nd Amendment — does that right trump our right to pursue life, liberty and happiness safely?”
Under the proposed legislation, Kansas courts would have the ability to issue “gun violence restraining orders” that would prohibit people deemed to be a likely threat from purchasing, owning or possessing any kind of gun. Those restraining orders could be kept in place for up to one year. The court would consider factors including recent threats of violence, acts of violence or reckless use and brandishing of firearms in determining whether to issue the gun violence restraining orders.
During the press conference outside Peters Baker’s office in downtown Kansas City, the heads of Hope House and the Rose Brooks Center both expressed their support for the measure, saying guns are often used to threaten and intimidate women who are attempting to leave abusive relationships. Giving the courts the ability to temporarily remove guns from those situations would be a positive step, they said.
Loren Stanton, the former Johnson County Sun reporter and Prairie Village resident who helped found the Northeast Kansas Chapter of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence last year, was on hand for the event and said the bill was crafted to respect the right to own a weapon while removing guns from dangerous situations.
“It’s a common sense solution to a big problem,” Stanton said. “It doesn’t infringe on anybody’s rights. It’s just a protection keeping guns out of the hands of people when they are believed to be dangerous.”
Bollier said she believed there would be ample public support for the bill even if it didn’t translate into action at the statehouse.
“I think the general public gets it completely – and I think that’s why we have so many people here supporting this legislation,” she said, acknowledging the more than a dozen members of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence at the event. “I think that legislators are very impacted by the NRA, specifically, and the sense that the right to own a weapon supersedes everything else. I hope that as we move forward as a country — let alone just Kansas and Missouri — that we can say, ‘Yes, we have those rights, but we need to be more thoughtful about it.’ I’m tired of us being made fun of around the world. Like, ‘What is wrong with that country and their gun violence, and why won’t they do anything?’ Representative Newman and I are ready.”