By Jerry LaMartina
June is now Asking Saves Kids month in Leawood, thanks to Mayor Peggy Dunn.
The ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign is a collaboration between the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with more than 400 grassroots organizations nationwide. The campaign “promotes a simple idea with the potential to help keep kids safe,” according to its website. “It encourages parents to ASK if there is an unlocked gun in the homes where their children play.”
Dunn read a proclamation designating June as Asking Saves Kids month at the Leawood City Council’s Monday night meeting. She’d gotten involved in the effort after former Leawood resident Harold Koch asked her if she’d be willing to pass the proclamation at a City Council meeting “in June, specifically, because it’s the start of the summer,” she said.
“I thought it had great merit,” Dunn said. “I’m a big believer in keeping kids safe.”
Koch lived in Leawood for 24 years and is in the process of moving to Denver. He co-founded the Northeast Kansas Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence soon after the April 13, 2014, murders of Reat Underwood and Dr. William Corporon in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, and the murder of Teresa LaManno in the parking lot of Village Shalom, both in Overland Park. Avowed anti-Semite and Neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Cross, who’d also used the name Frazier Glenn Miller, was convicted of the murders in August 2015, and in November 2015 he was sentenced to death.
Koch is a psychologist and has worked with children and families in his practice.
“What we’re talking about is saving children’s lives,” he said. “The statistics are horrendous. More kids are killed by guns than by car accidents, and that’s not even counting those kids who are badly damaged by guns. … We need to talk to the adults as well as the kids. We’re not trying to take away rights or take away guns, but we’re trying to make people aware of the need to ask about guns.”
Koch said he was pleased that Leawood had become the first city in Kansas to promote Asking Saves Kids with a proclamation.
“It rips your heart out when people come up to me and tell me about some terrible incident that happened where their brother or sister was killed and it ruined their parents’ lives,” Koch said.
Leawood was one of the two northeast Johnson County cities that had its ban on openly carried firearms voided by a state law in 2014.