Daylong conference explores gun violence in our community
For Immediate Release
July 12, 2018
For high school students across Kansas City, the new reality of gun violence requires that they now think about the possibility of being shot at school.
And for some urban students such fear can extend to their journey home and to their neighborhoods, where gun violence has become too common
In the city’s emergency rooms, meanwhile, physicians regularly see the physical and emotional casualties of this new gun reality in Kansas City.
These were among the graphic realities described by speakers at the first Kansas City Gun Summit, called “The Realities of Gun Violence in Kansas City: A Community Discussion." The daylong event, held April 20, 2018 at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center in Kansas City was hosted by the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office with support from Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, a national organization of big-city prosecutors dedicated to reducing gun violence.
The discussion was intended to capture the new reality of gun violence in our city, but also present some possibilities for coping with it.
“Our community must learn to better cope with the daily violence and its enormous impacts on children, families and community,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. “Our children bear the greatest burden. Some in urban neighborhoods go to bed despite the sound of gunfire in the night. Others can’t help but worry about an unsuspected shooter at school.”
“We must all work together to reduce the level of violence,” Baker added. “But we also must all make ourselves more aware of the impacts of this level of violence on the institutions of our city, the hospitals, the schools, the businesses and our households.”
What follows is a brief description of each speaker or panel’s discussion, with highlights from each. The agenda can be read here. Highlights are linked to specific video clips.
Jean Peters Baker opened the discussion with a welcome and a challenge to everyone that violence is preventable.
Mike Feuer and Cy Vance, district attorneys in Los Angeles and Manhattan, NY, speak about why they began the Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, a host for today’s Gun Summit. Vance calls this meeting in Kansas City an important first step for the organization in addressing gun violence.
Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, puts the violence rates in Kansas City and St. Louis into a national context, as well as giving a Missouri comparison. Kansas City’s violence issue, he concludes, is more manageable than the violence issue is in St. Louis. He details that Black victimization rates in Missouri are the worst in the nation. Kansas City's violence problem is more manageable than the problem in St. Louis, in part because Kansas's City's population is growing, while the population in St. Louis is shrinking. Across the nation, violence jumped after the Michael Brown shooting by an officer in Ferguson, MO, but a deeper problem in income disparity between blacks and whites may be a key cause to this violence, especially in St. Louis, where the disparity is greater.
Jennifer Joyce, the former District Attorney in the city of St. Louis, tracks the evolution of gun laws in Missouri, from the Louisiana Purchase at the beginning of the 19th Century, to today. They’re about the same now as in 1804, she says. An overview of those gun laws to today causes her to worry about turning around the loosening of the laws. Looking back, the first gun laws were instituted to restrict slaves from owning weapons. Later, a concealed weapons ban was instituted, and other laws impacting guns and their use were instituted, including Stand Your Ground. Finally, we have come back to the future, and gun laws are as lax today as they were in the early 1800s, right after the Louisiana Purchase.
In our panel on "Battlefield Medicine," Dr. Douglas Geehan of Truman Medical Center along with Andrea Hawk and Mickie Keeling detail the evolution of tourniquets as a way to save lives and the development of today's Stop The Bleed Campaign. Dr. Geehan details gun fatalities in America.He presents local data on gunshot victims in the Truman emergency room, and explains why it's important for tourniquets to be applied because so many people die from bleeding. The use of tourniquets, the goals of the American College of Surgeons' "Stop the Bleed" campaign are explained, and how to apply tourniquets is demonstrated.
Samantha Haviland, director of counseling for Denver Public Schools, previews the key messages in her presentation, "Treating the Trauma that Follows Mass Shootings." She steps back to show herself as a student at Columbine High School 19 years ago. She was an outgoing 16-year-old and very active in school. She details when the shooting began at Columbine, at the same time in the day as she was presenting to the Gun Summit. She details the difficulty of having to watch the news reports of the deadly event she survived. Two weeks after the shooting, the survivors struggled. Today, the shooting in Parkland, Florida, triggered PTSD for Columbine and other survivors. More than 187,000 students in America have experienced a shooting in a school. We don't give enough attention to the secondary trauma caused by these shootings, and a final key message is that these mass shootings will continue.
In "Trauma Exposure," Dr. Joah Williams, a psychology professor at University of Missouri at Kansas City, added to this discussion of the impacts of exposure to trauma, including shootings of loved ones. He detailed the psychological toll and the difference between PTStress and PTSD. Depression is also a major outcome from exposure to trauma. In fact, both PTSD and depression occur in victims. Williams adds that this negatively impacts the victims' willingness to cooperate with authorities, including police. He explains the strategies demonstrated to help these victims. Some survivors can do very well after receiving this help. "Let's not forget how resilient survivors are," Dr. Williams cautioned. He also details the outcomes of special effort here, dubbed Project Hope.
A roundtable discussion featuring Kansas City-area students, school officials and a physicna from Children's Mercy Hospital discuss the current reality created by the too-common occurrence of gun violence in schools and its impacts on parents, students, family and others. Moderated by Dr. Williams, the roundtable speakers include Dr. Kimberly Randell of Children’s Mercy Hospital, Dawn Smith, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services in Hickman Mills School District and student organizers of recent gun protests in Kansas City: Liv Davidson , Diana Garbison and Danielle Foster. Here's the introduction to the roundtable. The students spoke of being witness to violence in America outside of the school, in thier own neighborhoods. Garbison details how fearful students are today, and Foster discusses a student rally that day in Midtown. Many students are angry about the reality of gun violence in America and they don't believe that more guns are needed in schools. Foster noted that during the war on drugs, no one advocated for more drugs. So why are more guns needed? she asked. Assistant Superintendent Smith expresses concern about the trauma for students of knowing that their teacher is armed. And Dr. Randle discussed the damage created by toxic stress. Students also detailed some of the reasons that police have a poor relationship with many in the urban core community.
The final session of the day included Damon Daniels of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime and Sgt. Robert Gibbs, of KCPD and the Kansas City No Violence Alliance and Heidi Brake Jones, a KC NoVA client advocate. They were led by Dr. Rosenfeld in discussion Kansas City's efforts to respond to and reduce gun violence. Rosenfeld notes that hot spot policing is a proven strategy to reduce violence. If police treat community members with respect, this hot-spot technique doesn't erode trust between community and law enforcement, Rosenfeld says. Another proven strategy is focused deterrence, the type of program initiated in Kansas City under the name KC No Violence Alliance or KC NoVA. Sgt. Robert Gibbs explains the basics of how KC NoVA operates here and client advocate Heidi Brake Jones talks about how she tries to help "clients," gang members who have been close to violence. Damon Daniels of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime also tries to be a "trusted bridge" between police and the community. The persons close to violence in Kansas City have great needs and fears, Brake Jones says.
The conference, says Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecutor, in closing has given participants a lot to take home and lot to do. We have a special obligation to reduce violence now that we know it can be done. Mike Feuer, LA District Attorney, calls the day a marvelous day with much take-home information.
If anyone is interested in lengthier videos of any particular session and for more information about the KC Gun Summit 2018 or the Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, please contact:
For more information, contact:
Director of Communication
Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office
Jean Peters Baker, Prosecutor
Work : (816) 881-3812
Mobile: (816) 674-3954