TOPEKA, (KSNT)— After a school shooting that killed 19 kids and 2 adults in Uvalde, Texas, Kansas activist groups are calling on lawmakers to take action.
LaTonya Boyd, a Topeka-based volunteer with the state’s Moms Demand Action chapter, is hoping lawmakers at the federal and state level will focus on passing bills to address a rise in gun violence. Boyd said it’s an issue she’s also witnessed in her community.
“I feel the pain that all of those parents are feeling right now, because I’ve been through that, losing a child to gun violence,” Boyd told Kansas Capitol Bureau on Wednesday. “I feel our elected officials can end this, or at least slow it down, by taking safety measures on people getting their hands on guns.”
Boyd’s daughter, Tyesha McNair, was shot and killed by the father of her children in 2009, after leaving an abusive relationship. Since then, Boyd has made several trips to the state’s Capitol, urging lawmakers to pass gun reform legislation.
“It’s frustrating when I come here and nothing really gets done,” Boyd said. “They talk about the language of these bills… but what about the lives of these women and children who are suffering, while they’re waiting for language to be changed.”
On June 2, Johnson County Moms Demand Action volunteers will be receiving a proclamation declaring June 3, 2022, as National Gun Violence Awareness Day in the county. This comes after a shooting took place at a high school in the area earlier this year. The shooting took place at Olathe East High School in March.
“It’s a good bill… It teaches younger individuals gun safety and what to do if there’s a gun there… go tell someone…go tell an adult,” said Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, who approved the bill in committee
While Republicans supported the bill, some democrats called the move “tone deaf.”
“I have received testimony from more people saying ‘please, stop this bill… this is not the time to have this conversation.” said Sen. Cindy Holscher, a democrat from Overland Park. “There are plenty of other suggestions out there…storage of firearms… making sure that they’re not accessible to children.”
According to the Johnson County District Attorney, the shooter used a “ghost gun,” an untraceable firearm that’s usually assembled by the user. It’s what inspired Holscher to sponsor new legislation to outlaw ghost guns in the state. However, there was no movement on the bill this legislative session.
Last year, lawmakers also voted to lower the state’s concealed carry age to 18, which received pushback from activists and democrats. Boyd, said lawmakers should consider raising the age.
“I don’t think young kids should be messing around with guns,” Boyd said. “Our community is not safe…and it’s our elected official’s job to make sure the people in Kansas are being taken care of.”