Before the gunfire, the celebration of the Kansas City Chiefs’ second consecutive Super Bowl victory on Wednesday — six years after the massacre in Parkland, Florida, and one year and one day after the shooting at Michigan State University — “started out just like last year’s,” said offensive lineman Trey Smith. Players were paraded through downtown, surrounded by a sea of fans — law enforcement estimated the crowd numbered around a million — adorned in the team’s colors. The parade route ended at Union Station, a historical landmark, for a rally in which players addressed the Missouri city. Smith was making his way off the stage, he said, when security ushered him and his teammates away, and everyone started to run. 

Over the next 24 hours, details and casualty counts would emerge: One person killed and more than 20 others injured. Three people were detained by police. The shooting is suspected to have stemmed from a personal dispute. In the immediate chaos, though, Smith said he took shelter in a closet with long snapper James Winchester and about 20 other people, grabbing a young kid on his way in. They did their best to keep everyone calm. 

Violent crime is down in much of the country, but Kansas City is one of the exceptions: 2023 was its deadliest year on record, according to The Kansas City Star, with homicides surpassing the previous record set in 2020. Missouri itself has a high rate of firearm deaths — it ranked ninth among all states in 2021, per the CDC — but over the past decade and a half, gun access laws there have been loosened significantly. In 2016, lawmakers eliminated the need for a permit to carry a concealed weapon; five years later, under Governor Mike Parson, the state enacted a “Second Amendment sanctuary” measure, currently on hold while it’s challenged in court, to prevent local police from enforcing federal gun laws. That rightward turn on firearms was clear in the aftermath of the rally shooting, as GOP state lawmakers invoked the “good guy with a gun” maxim, blamed “thugs” for the violence, or refused to answer questions about firearm regulations. In an interview on Thursday, Parson, who was at the parade, did not mention the word “gun.”

Citizen-led efforts to change things are underway — but they face an uphill battle. As The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia reported last month, Missouri voters have submitted several gun reform-related initiatives to appear on the ballot in November, including measures to restrict the carrying of firearms in public and to make it a felony to sell a gun to anyone under the age of 18. Before they make it to the polls, though, the initiatives have to go through Jay Ashcroft, the secretary of state whose office is tasked with summarizing each initiative to appear on the ballot. Ashcroft is an ardent defender of gun rights — and known for rewriting initiatives that don’t align with his politics. He’s already presented many of this year’s gun reform initiatives as a threat to people’s constitutional rights, wording that could sway the outcome of the vote.

In the meantime, Mayor Quinton Lucas said Kansas City may need to reevaluate hosting large public celebrations. “My city and many American cities will be tested,” said Lucas. “Is this just something we live with in the same way that we’re living with school shootings and the threat to movie theaters and the threat to bowling alleys?”

From The Trace

The latest stories from our team.

The Osteen Church Shooter Doesn’t Fit a Neat Profile

Some characteristics of the February 11 shooting at the Houston megachurch set it apart, while others highlight gaps that have allowed several shooters to acquire guns.

Gun Violence Affects Suicide Risk Among Black People, Study Finds

In the United States, people of color are the most vulnerable to gun violence, and they’re also the least likely to receive mental health care.
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Why Suffolk County Leads New York State in Red Flag Orders

Suffolk County has become a leader in the use of extreme risk protection orders. Its process could be a model for police nationwide.

Chicago Mayor Ends the City’s Use of ShotSpotter

Following years of criticism of the controversial gunshot detection technology, Mayor Brandon Johnson cuts ties. The city will explore other strategies to reduce shootings.

How American Gun Culture Fuels Anti-Immigrant Politics

A sociologist embedded with a militia group on the southwest border and found that gun culture provided an avenue to recruit members and maintain morale.
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NRA Trial

Lawyers made closing arguments on Thursday in the National Rifle Association’s civil fraud trial. The case goes to the jury today. In its final appeal to jurors, the New York Attorney General’s Office described how the organization had allowed former chief executive Wayne LaPierre to siphon off assets through alleged deception and flouting of internal financial controls. LaPierre’s attorney attacked the office’s motives, saying it had “concocted this story of greed and selfishness” to eliminate a political adversary. An attorney for the NRA, stressing a key element of its defense, said the organization, far from being a guilty party, had been victimized by bad actors. “Misconduct was against the NRA,” the attorney said, “not by the NRA.” 

Though LaPierre resigned as CEO last month, the attorney general wants the jury to rule that there existed legal cause to oust him. The office also wants the jury to order individual defendants to repay millions of dollars to the NRA and for the organization to be placed under the oversight of a court-appointed monitor. At the start of the day, Judge Joel M. Cohen told jurors that they would not be considering one set of claims alleged by the attorney general because they essentially duplicated those the office had brought under another statute. “From your perspective,” he said, “all that does is make the jury verdict form shorter.” —Will Van Sant

What to Know This Week

Information about which gun stores sell the most firearms used in crimes has been kept secret for two decades, but a newly unearthed list sheds light: Large retailers like Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s are among the more than 1,300 outlets targeted by the ATF last year, as are smaller dealers connected to recent high-profile mass shootings. [USA TODAY/The Hill

The Hawaii Supreme Court unanimously decided that a man can be prosecuted for carrying a gun in public without a permit, in an apparent rebuke of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen decision. The ruling cited a quote from the television series “The Wire” conveying that the country’s “old days” shouldn’t dictate contemporary life. [Associated Press]

Hundreds of Chicago Police officers are tasked with responding to emergencies each day, yet for many residents, especially those living in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods, calls to 911 can yield little help or go entirely ignored. An analysis of city data indicates one cause of the problem: Officers assigned to “rapid response duty” are rarely dispatched to 911 calls, and instead spend most of their time conducting traffic stops. [Block Club Chicago

Some advocates heralded the manslaughter conviction of Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of a school shooter, as an important step toward curbing the country’s gun violence crisis. But others say the legal precedent could facilitate further racial injustice in the criminal legal system. [Mother Jones]

In Memoriam

Lisa Lopez-Galvan, 44, knew just about everyone in Kansas City, Missouri, and just about everyone knew her, too, a longtime friend told The Kansas City Star. Her voice was familiar to listeners of “A Taste of Tejano,” a music program she co-hosted on a local radio station, but she built her community through years of mobile DJing — she believed music could be a source of happiness for everyone, and she spent her career spreading that joy. Lopez-Galvan died of wounds sustained during the shooting on Wednesday at the Super Bowl victory rally for the Kansas City Chiefs. She loved the team, and she was dedicated to the city. A mother of two, Lopez-Galvan “went to bat for people,” an official for the station told USA TODAY, and was known for working to elevate Latino artists. “She was the most wonderful, beautiful person,” said Lopez-Galvan’s friend. “We all know her. She was so full of life.”

We Recommend

The Wages of Sin

“They were barely adults when they committed a senseless crime in 2008. Given what we’ve learned about young brains, should Gov. Roy Cooper give their clemency bid another look?” [The Assembly]

Pull Quote

“Kids shouldn’t have firearms, but not only is it legal, we essentially deify it and make it a major part of what it means to be American.”

— Josie Duffy Rice, a journalist who has spent nearly a decade covering the criminal legal system, on the manslaughter conviction of a school shooter’s mother, to Mother Jones