TOPEKA — Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization aimed at curbing gun violence in Kansas and across the country, didn’t let the pandemic prevent the group from pushing for stricter gun legislation during its annual day of advocacy in Kansas.
The Kansas Chapter of the group, which is part of the Everytown For Gun Safety network, hosted a virtual rally this year. The group is pushing for legislation that would close a loophole in a law passed in 2018 that bans convicted domestic abusers from purchasing firearms, but does not confiscate any existing firearms the person may own.
The new bill would require anyone who has been issued a protection order or has been convicted of domestic battery or misdemeanor domestic violence to relinquish all firearms and concealed carry licenses.
Gov. Laura Kelly and Rep. Jo Ella Hoye spoke in support of the legislation during the advocacy day. Hoye, a Lenexa Democrat, is a former Moms Demand Action Kansas chapter leader and was inspired to run for office through her work with the organization. She applauded the group’s work in pushing for the updated gun violence legislation.
“When we hear things like, ‘Well lets just enforce the laws we already have on the books,’ well that’s exactly what this bill does,” Hoye said.
Kelly, who supports the legislation, said Kansas has the 22nd-highest rate of gun deaths in the nation, and that in Kansas guns were used in more than two-thirds of domestic violence-related homicides from 2014 to 2018.
“I have always been supportive of the Second Amendment, the right for law-abiding citizens to own firearms,” Kelly said. “But domestic abusers are not law-abiding citizens and should not have the right to possess firearms. Support for the Second Amendment can include support for common sense gun laws.”
Mary Snipes, a leader in the Kansas chapter of Moms Demand Action, said the legislation was the kind of common sense policy that would ensure those with domestic violence-related convictions won’t have easy access to firearms.
Snipes, a Junction City resident, became involved in the organization after her son died from gun violence.
“Right after that happened I told myself that someone will hear our story and I will fight for my child, I will be his voice,” she said. “I do not want another family to go through the pain that we have gone through.”
Snipes said even though the rally was virtual this year, it’s more important than ever to push for legislation that could help victims of domestic violence, given the complications of families isolated at home during a challenging year for so many.
Snipes, who had COVID-19, likened the need to respond to gun violence to the response to the coronavirus: It may not be possible to eliminate all gun violence, but it’s still worth trying to curb as many cases as possible.
“We can’t let one health crisis stop us from fighting another one,” she said.