gun violence

Ron Waddington/Flickr CC

As the nation watches a burgeoning children’s movement for gun control spring from Florida after last week’s mass killing, the odds of Kansas and Missouri rewriting their rules for firearms this year look slim.

Few parts of the country welcome guns, carried openly or tucked out of sight, as much as Kansas and Missouri.

Segment 1: Is the conversation around guns, schools and violence changing?

Teens in Florida have been galvanized to speak out about mass shootings at American schools. But what is happening here? Have our thoughts shifted about school shootings?

Kansas congressional candidate Tyler Tannahill is sticking with his planned giveaway of rifle similar to the one used in the mass shooting at a Florida high school.

The Leavenworth Marine veteran running for the Republican nomination in the 2nd District announced the contest for an AR-15 rifle on social media the day before the Florida gunman killed at least 17 people.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Children at Ingels Elementary School in the Hickman Mills School District are used to seeing empty desks.

Ingels is a “high churn” school, meaning students transfer in and out frequently during the school year. Often they depart with no notice, leaving their supplies behind and the school staff scrambling to determine their whereabouts.

But the empty desk in Angelica Saddler’s third-grade classroom this week is different. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Students at Central Academy of Excellence spent a semester composing short stories, plays and spoken word poetry about gun violence. The class was a collaboration between Kansas City Public Schools and KCUR's reporting project, The Argument

On this episode of Central Standard​, a few of those students and their teacher reflect on their work.

Guests:

Mike Mozart / Flickr-CC

Today, we meet two high school students from Kansas City's Central Academy of Excellence who are using art to tell stories about gun violence. 

Plus, find out how communities, both rural and urban, are affected by the expansion of dollar stores such as Dollar General.

Guests:

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City branch of the NAACP on Friday voiced its opposition to the Kansas City Council's approval of a plan to privatize Westport sidewalks on weekends and vowed to fight the ordinance before it takes effect this spring.

The council's 8-5 decision earlier this month allowing privatization "amounts to failure to perform public duty," said Rodney Williams, president of the local NAACP and pastor at Swope Parkway United Christian Church.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Dairian Stanley’s ex-girlfriend was warned before she met up with him that Sunday morning in September 2016.

Stanley had been missing for two days, had been talking “crazy stuff” and threatening to kill himself, his mother told her. When the ex-girlfriend found him at a BP gas station on Van Brunt Boulevard, Stanley demanded to know who she had been with.

“If I can’t have you, nobody can have you!” Stanley, then 21, said to her, according to court documents.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

"Where are the brave ones?" 

Academic coach Charlette Wafer looks out across an auditorium of students, administrators and community members at Central Academy of Excellence. She's reciting a poem. 

"Where are the brave ones? The ones who don't use guns to solve problems. The ones who are mentors and provide support before things get started. The ones who aren't afraid to snitch. The ones who are brave enough to stitch ... Our wounds, our community, our families, our city back together. Where are the brave ones?"

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Though it's not the final say, Kansas City officials decided Wednesday they'd be OK with privatizing some sidewalks in Westport so business owners can screen for guns at the entrance of the entertainment district . The measure now goes to the full City Council. 

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Amid a rise in homicides in Kansas City, Missouri, the Violence-Free Kansas City Committee (VFKCC) is urging community members to take a short online survey on violence in the metro. 

This is the final phase of a two-year project, spearheaded by the Kansas City Health Department in partnership with the Prevention Institute, a nonprofit group which takes a public health approach to violence and has worked in cities like Minneapolis and Oakland.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City council members got more information about violent crimes as they consider a proposal to privatize the sidewalks in Kansas City's historical Westport entertainment district.

"I feel it is very important to broaden this discussion, not about whether we privatize the sidewalk, or whether we support businesses," says Councilwoman Alissia Canady. "This is a public safety issue."

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Westport has seen a major uptick in gun violence this year. 

According to stats collected by the Westport Regional Business League, there were 16 gun-related weapons offenses in the district in 2016. In 2017, there were 65 — and that's only through Oct. 31.

A Missouri law that took effect in January allows people to carry guns without a permit in nearly every public space, so there’s not much business owners or police can do to keep guns out.

Courtesy of Crystal Hays and Shanta Barnett

In late August last year, Shanta Barnett got a call from her 15-year-old daughter Brannae Browne. 

“Momma, did you hear about what happened?”

Natasha Hays, the mom of one of Brannae’s friends, had been killed in a drive-by shooting, she told her mom.

Barnett warned her daughter to be careful.

“She was like, ‘Momma, we didn't do nothing so why we gotta be worried about it?’” Barnett remembers. “Something in my heart told her just to watch out, to be safe.”

Days later, on a Friday after school, Barnett dropped her daughter off at a cousin’s house in Northeast Kansas City, Kansas. About an hour later, Brannae was sitting on the porch when shots rang out from the street. With a bullet to the back, Brannae was soon dead.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

“Let’s hear what you've got,” Nathan Louis Jackson says to Roben Pope, a junior at Central Academy of Excellence in Kansas City, Missouri.

Jackson rests his elbows on the table so he’s at the same level as Pope, one of a dozen students in a special creative writing class here. He’s relaxed and informal.

“Doesn’t matter how much," he says. "Got just a few lines, got an idea? Let’s just hear whatever there is.”

A handgun and six bullets on a desk.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office / Wikimedia Commons

Drag is big these days in pop culture, but the cross-dressing tradition goes back further than most people realize. Today, we trace its roots on the American frontier. Then, we take a close look with sociologist and researcher Jonathan Metzl at claims that gun violence in America is primarily a mental health issue, and not one related to the easy availability of firearms.

El-Toro / Flickr - CC

For migrants attempting to illegally cross the deserts guarding our border with Mexico, survival is far from a given. Today, we revisit a conversation with anthropologist Lori Baker about how forensic science is helping identify the unfortunate travelers who perish and return their remains to loved ones. Then, guest host Sam Zeff explores how mass shootings affect the likelihood that new gun laws will be passed with Harvard Business School professor Deepak Malhotra.

Many news outlets report that last weekend's shooting in Las Vegas is one of the deadliest in modern U.S. history. We take a moment to consider our country's history of mass casualties, and what constitutes as a "mass shooting" by definition.

Plus, how active shooter training in school is changing for kids as gun violence is on the rise.

Guests: 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Chances are good that you've heard of Dan Brown before. (Does The Da Vinci Code ring a bell?) Today, the mega best-selling author talks about about his latest thriller, Origin, and explains why he thinks God won't survive the next hundred years. Then, we find out how reframing the gun control debate can help prevent more children being killed in gun violence.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

In 2015, Missouri Statehouse interns came forward to report sexual misconduct. It was a pretty big scandal, leading to resignations, restraining orders and a spotlight on the pervasive culture of sexual harassment at the Capitol. Two years later, what has changed?

Then: Las Vegas. Lawrence. Sandy Hook. Orlando. Mass shootings are part of our news cycle. How do you feel about going out to public events and public spaces?

Guests:

Travel Nevada / Flickr - CC

With the country's attention trained on Sunday night's tragic events in Las Vegas, we discuss whether the worst mass shooting in modern American history might shift the attitudes of Second Amendment advocates, and hear how police departments train and respond to quickly-developing kinetic events.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

There's no doubt that violence can have a profound impact on young people. But accessing feelings doesn't always come easy.

Toward that end, the Kansas City Public School District has created a special class at Central Academy of Excellence to give students an opportunity to create an artistic expression that might unlock hidden feelings about violence.

Courtesy of Kristen Oehlert

Alice Snodgrass was worried about her friend Nicki Alexopoulos. Worried about a threat from within her family.

“When she went silent, when she wasn't on Facebook, that was an indication that something was wrong,” Snodgrass says.

So, she drove 200 miles to check on Nicki. But as the two of them were catching up in the living room of Nicki’s home in Kansas City’s Brookside neighborhood, the “threat” showed up at the door. Nicki’s 38-year-old son, Patrick Alexopoulos, barged in with a 9 mm gun and a demand.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Despite a drop in murder rates at the national level, homicides in Kansas City are on the rise.

Courtesy the Clark family

Pretty Pennington was killed by a girl fight, a handgun and an AK-47.

She’d been to a friend's wedding that Saturday night, Nov. 12, 2016 — a fun party where she danced all night, picking up her phone only to post pictures to Snapchat. Her mother, Marvella Clark, was sitting at a table and noticed Pennington’s cell phone buzzed constantly.  

Courtesy of Lee's Summit Police Department

Lee's Summit School Resource Officer Thomas Orr Jr. was shot and killed Sunday night at Californos in Westport.

Police say Orr was an innocent bystander to an argument that broke out between two men on the restaurant's back patio.

The 30-year-old officer had been with the Lee's Summit Police Department for two years. He had just started a new job at Campbell Middle School last week, a district spokeswoman confirmed.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

It was a clear night in late July 2016 on the 3600 block of Askew Avenue on Kansas City’s East Side.

But inside one home, a fight was brewing. It was just after midnight, the police report would later say, when Lon’Nasha Tate opened the freezer to find that the ice cream she had saved for her kids was half empty.

Jackson County Combat / Twitter

Early Sunday morning, Kansas City Police responded to a call after a two-year old child reportedly shot himself by accident in south Kansas City. The boy was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

According to data from the #NotAnAccident Index, it was the seventh such accidental shooting death of a child in the Kansas City area in the past two years. 

In response, local child advocacy and gun safety groups are speaking out about preventative measures.  

Tex Texin / Wikimedia Commons

Kansas City's ongoing violent crime problem is no secret. Today, we hear from two former presidents of the Board of Police Commissioners, Jeff Simon and Pat McInerney, who offer their thoughts on solving the city's preeminent hurdle. Then, we examine how a wall between the U.S. and Mexico would (or would not) affect existing tensions over immigration, crime, trade and more.

Paul Sableman / Flickr - CC

Violent crime rates in Kansas City are on the rise, yet again. Today, we hear the first installment of KCUR's "The Argument," a reporting series that looks beyond the worrying statistics, and into the arguments that escalate to homicide. Then, we discuss how an 1878 eclipse, similar to the one that will cross the country on August 21, catalyzed scientific thought in America.

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