As the Kansas legislature returns to Topeka for the start of the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers will again have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills. Gun violence prevention is more important than ever in the new year as the pandemic continues to exacerbate gun violence, and after a year of increased gun sales, continued police violence, increased risk of suicide and domestic violence, and an increase in city gun violence.
Top priorities for lawmakers should be keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, supporting and funding local violence intervention programs and expanding efforts to prevent police violence and create police accountability. At least 29 women were fatally shot by an intimate partner in Kansas between 2014 and 2018. Over half of women killed by an intimate partner in Kansas were killed with a gun. Police departments and domestic violence advocates in Kansas reported increases in the number of domestic violence calls during the pandemic.
In 2018, a bill to prohibit domestic abusers from possessing guns was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law by then Governor Jeff Colyer. However, Kansas law doesn’t require prohibited domestic abusers to turn in the guns they may already have. Adding a process for prohibited abusers to relinquish firearms they already possess would give law enforcement officers the tools they need to protect Kansas communities from abusers illegally armed with guns.
What to know about gun violence in Kansas:
- On average, nearly 400 people are shot and killed with a gun every year; 69% of those deaths are gun suicides. The rate of gun deaths in Kansas increased 36% in the last decade, compared to an 18% increase nationwide.
- An average of 112 people in Kansas die by gun homicide every year; 75% of all homicides in Kansas involve a gun. Black people in Kansas are nine times as likely to die by gun homicide as white people.
- Cities in Kansas including Topeka and Wichita saw increases in violence in 2020.
- Firearms are the number 2nd leading cause of death for children and teens in Kansas. In an average year, 31 children and teens die by gun in Kansas and 49% of these deaths are suicides. Black children and teens are four times as likely as their white peers to die by guns.