Grieving mother presents her case to House committee

The still-grieving mother of Blair Lane, an 11-year-0ld girl who died during a Fourth of July celebration, has testified before the Missouri House of Representatives for more than a decade.

In 2011, a stray bullet from an act of celebratory gunfire in eastern Kansas City struck and killed Lane.

Blair's Law was introduced in the following legislative session. The law would establish a criminal penalty for any unsanctioned firing of a weapon in a city without a valid reason, like self defense.

"I just truly believe, after 10 and a half years of coming here year after year ... time after time, that it's common sense legislation," said Blair's mother, Michele DeMoss, during a House Emerging Issues Committee hearing Wednesday evening.

In recent years, the bill has been carried by Kansas City Democratic Rep. Mark Sharp. Sharp inherited the bill from his predecessor and has stewarded it many times in an effort to make Kansas City, and cities like it, safer. He noted several instances in the Kansas City area where stray bullets from celebratory gunfire killed and hurt members of the community.

"We've had a reporter that was killed from celebratory gunfire ... she was a KCUR reporter who was killed in her home or at her apartment in the Westport area of Kansas City," Sharp said. "Right after the Chiefs' Super Bowl, when a police officer was struck by celebratory gunfire, he luckily was OK after seeking some medical help."

Two different bills in the House also include language that would establish Blair's Law: one by Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin, and another by Rep. Roger Reedy, R-Windsor.

Reedy's bill, which mostly addressed laws surrounding how a farmer could protect livestock, was heard in the same hearing Wednesday evening. Both bills were unanimously supported by the public, with a few favorable witnesses, including DeMoss.

No witnesses spoke against either bill.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce also supported the bill, with Heidi Geisbuhler Sutherland testifying in favor of both bills on the chamber's behalf.

Minutes before the hearing on either bill, the committee approved a bill that would allow concealed carry weapons to be possesed in a church or place of worship without the consent of the organization's leader. The bill drew vocal condemnation from faith-based and secular organizations during public testimony last week.