INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -- There have been 175-gun related incidents in Independence so far this year. Police have recovered 86 stolen firearms.
“We’re seeing gun violence on the increase in our region I think that’s fair to say,” Eileen Weir, the Mayor of Independence said.
Weir is talking about why a proposed update to a gun ordinance that’s been on the books since the 90s is necessary. Kansas City just recently passed a similar law too.
“We wanted to make sure ours were mirroring one another’s so that people do feel that there’s more leniency in one city versus the other. We know that people travel along all of our cities and we want to make sure that all of our enforcement is similar in both cities,” Weir said.
The ordinance originally singled out kids younger than 17 making it illegal for them to possess a gun in public. That age would be increased to 18 which is the state law.
Major John Cato with the Independence Police Criminal Investigations Unit says if a teen or kid breaks the law, it’s possible parents could be in trouble too depending on the circumstance.
“Hopefully these kinds of collaborations and this kind of ordinance helps parents understand that we’re engaged with them in assisting them but ultimately those parents need to know where their children are and what they’re doing,” Cato said.
Kids under 18, also need permission from a parent or legal guardian and they have to take a safety course. That’s where Bruce Luedeman comes in.
“Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction and you notice my hand is off the trigger,” Bruce Luedeman, with Safe Shoot said.
He’s a former police officer who now teaches gun safety courses and hopes the ordinance helps keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people.
“A parent really needs to reinforce to the child not to have the gun in the first place, and at an early age, be able to satisfy that child’s normal curiosity about firearms and educate the child on the misuse especially of a firearm,” Luedeman said.
The council is expected to vote on the ordinance on October 7. If it passes, it goes into effect ten days later.
The Independence Police Department also recently formed a Gun Squad to focus on tracking illegal guns.
It’s made up of one sergeant and four detectives, one of which is also part of the ATF Task Force. With the recently approved Proposition P, which dedicates online sales tax funds toward the addition of 30 new police personnel for the City, the Independence Police Department will eventually have the officers needed to create focused groups like the Gun Squad and Street Crimes Unit.