Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly said this week that in the wake of the mass shootings that left more than 30 dead in El Paso and Dayton this past weekend, he and other officials had heard from residents asking what steps the city could take to reduce gun violence.
While options for city-level actions may be limited, Kelly said, residents should still voice their concerns and opinions about the issue. During his mayor’s report Monday, Kelly urged concerned residents to contact state and federal officials.
“I think all of us recognize that these kinds of tragic events have been happening with too much regularity for us not to do some amount of soul searching and examine the ways we can reduce violence,” Kelly said.
Kelly noted that the Kansas legislature in recent years had stripped municipalities of the ability to regulate the carrying of firearms within their limits. In 2014, Gov. Sam Brownback signed HB 2578, which took away cities’ right to prevent the open carrying of firearms. As a result, Prairie Village and Leawood had to strike ordinances from their books.
“Just because there’s nothing we can do from a policy or an ordinance standpoint doesn’t mean we should ignore an issue that’s important to our residents,” Kelly said, urging residents to advocate to the state legislature to return more authority over policy making to the local level. “If you feel we deserve more of a say in what goes on in our community, tell them to give us more local control and home rule.”
He also noted federal laws passed by the House relating to background checks and funding for research on gun violence, saying that the U.S. Senate could take them up at any time. He said residents who would like to see such measures enacted should contact Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran to encourage them to get behind bringing the bills to the floor for a vote.