After Kansas City, Who is Next?

A KC Chiefs-branded AR-15 from

I knew yesterday was going to be weird. I just didn’t know how weird.

Yesterday, the Hallmark holiday of Valentine’s Day fell on the Christian observation of Ash Wednesday — two very different kinds of days — and then the Kansas City Chiefs went and won the Super Bowl, which added the Chief’s parade and celebration rally to collide with the other two holidays. As the players were boarding the observation deck buses to start the parade, I noticed Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, who had a cross of ashes on his forehead – a sign he had been to an early morning mass. Behind him was Taylor Swift’s boyfriend and future NFL hall of famer Travis Kelce. Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, right at the heart of the Super Bowl victory celebration.

All around the metro area, schools were closed, in large part because a sizable number of teachers, custodians, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers informed their supervisors that they would be taking the day off, and nowhere near enough substitutes could be found even if the schools wanted to try to hold classes. Similarly, many businesses found the same dynamic with their people wanting to take the day off. Some closed completely, while others tried to make due with a skeleton staff. Estimates of the crowd size went as high as a million people, and traffic around the area certainly made that seem about right.

I was not at the event, but know many who were. I was watching the wall-to-wall coverage on KSHB television, the “home of the Chiefs”. They had reporters all along the parade route, all throughout the crowd, and sitting in midst of the crowd at the rally on an elevated open-air temporary broadcast booth.

The parade rolled out, and many of the players who started on the rooftops of the observation buses got out and walked the route, engaging with the crowd. They signed jerseys, took selfies, and high-fived with what felt like everyone in the front row of the street. They danced and shouted, tossed footballs back and forth with folks in the crowd, and did impromptu interviews with KSHB reporters along the route. And while the parade proceeded, musicians and DJs were amping up the crowd at Union Station who were waiting for them to arrive.

Union Station is a grand old railroad building that sits at the bottom of a massive bowl. To the south is a huge grassy area, which goes uphill to the US National World War I memorial that sits on one of the high spots of the whole city. In that bowl, hundreds of thousands of people had gathered to party. There were old folks, who remember Len Dawson and the first Super Bowl which the Chiefs lost and Super Bowl IV, which they won. There were young folks, who were there in 2020 for the parade and party right before everything shut down for COVID, they were there last year, and they were back again yesterday. There were also the folks in between, who missed the Len Dawson era, but lived through the fifty year drought between Super Bowl wins. There were rich folks and poor folks, lifelong Chiefs fans and newcomer Swifties, there were folks from all parts of Kansas City, from the majority African-American folks south of the Missouri River to the white folks north of the river to the Hispanic community on the west side. Folks from the suburbs were there, from both Missouri and Kansas. Folks from the Ozarks and the Flint Hills, folks from Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, and all across the country were there. They brought blankets and lawn chairs and coolers, filled with beverages and food to last the day. It was a joyful sea of red.

The MC for the rally was longtime KC Chiefs radio announcer Mitch Hulthus. He cast the day as a massive history lesson, which other speakers who followed picked up on. KC Mayor Quinton Lucas and Chiefs owner Clark Hunt both spoke of how the Chiefs had changed KC’s image with the world, noting how the Chiefs brought the NFL draft to KC last year and were instrumental in bringing the World Cup to KC in 2026. Missouri’s republican Governor Mike Parson was greeted with loud boos that pretty much battled with the volume on the PA system throughout his speech (boos from Kansas folks because he’s the Missouri governor and boos from the KC folks because he deserves it for his long history of disrespecting Kansas City). When the players took the stage, the crowd went nuts. Every player was grinning from ear to ear, and as the microphone was passed around, the word “Three-peat” echoed louder and louder, and their praise for the Chiefs fans grew ever stronger. Some players were eloquent, some had had one too many adult beverages along the parade route, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Mitch Hulthus seemed to be working to keep the rally going while at the same time trying to keep the folks who had overconsumed from falling off the front of the stage. Finally it came to an end, the music came up, and the crowd cheered and shouted and danced.

And then the shots rang out.

Some folks did not hear them at all. Others heard them as they echoed off the surrounding buildings, and wondered where they were coming from. But the folks near Union Station itself heard them, and knew where they came from. Older folks looked around, many wondering what to do, but all the kids didn’t hesitate. Instead of “duck and cover” drills at school that their elders grew up on, they have been living with “active shooter” drills at school for their whole lives, and they took charge and told their elders what to do. Everyone started running.

They jumped barricades and ran into Union Station, which had been blocked off as a staging area for the players, their families, and folks on stage. They jumped barricades on the edge of the bowl, and ran for the side streets. The reporters anchoring the coverage for KSHB threw the broadcast back to the folks at the station, and dropped to the floor of their elevated broadcast area which suddenly felt very exposed and dangerous. At past rallies, it took hours for the area to clear, but yesterday it felt like it emptied out in ten minutes. Left behind were strollers, backpacks, blankets, coolers, and tents. Cell phones were dropped, and there were random empty shoes.

I won’t say more about the deaths and injuries, as the numbers still seem to be shifting. I won’t say much about the shooters, save to say that three people have been taken into custody, no motive has been announced or is obvious from the context, and no description of the specific weapons used has been released.

At the now-routine press conferences afterwards, the familiar words were said. “We stand with the victims . . . We thank the first responders . . .  We pray for those in the hospitals . . . Here’s what we know about the status of the investigation . . .” Just as one press conference was ending, though, the police chief stopped walking away, and turned back to the microphone to make one more statement: “This is *not* Kansas City.” (start at the 11:40 mark)

Those five words touched a nerve.

Social media exploded in Kansas City, with many chiming in to say “this is *exactly* who we are.” Kansas City set a record last year for homicide deaths, largely involving guns. There is huge distrust in the police within the African American community, because of a pattern of racist (and deadly) police interactions with that part of Kansas City that finally forced the resignation of the previous police chief. Similarly, a non-trivial part of the white community thinks the police are being too lenient with “those people” and that is why violent crime is so bad. In one of the more racist parts of Kansas City, a young black youth named Ralph Yarl rang a doorbell, mistakenly coming to the wrong house to pick up his siblings (he had the right house number, but should have been one street over), and the elderly white homeowner shot him through his door. Kansas City has a pattern of using guns to settle beefs, to “stand your ground” when threatened by innocent folks, and to a non-trivial degree, don’t trust the police to help.

For all the talk that “the Chiefs bring people together” (or, more generally, “sports” or “the Super Bowl”, as Biden said in his post-shooting statement yesterday), this is not the first time gun violence has touched the Chiefs in a very personal way. Back in December 2012, well before the Patrick Mahomes/Andy Reid era, 3rd year linebacker Jovan Belcher came to the Chiefs facilities on a Saturday morning, got out of his car, and pointed a gun at his head. He told then-general manager Scott Pioli and other coaches that he had killed his girlfriend/mother of his child, Kassandra Perkins. They tried to talk him into putting the gun down, but Belcher pulled the trigger and killed himself. Police soon discovered that he had been drinking, and had been having relationship issues with Perkins. When the police went to her home, they found her dead – shot and killed by a different gun legally belonging to Belcher. Maybe I’m the only one who connected yesterday with Belcher and Perkins. I listened to the news coverage, and heard nothing. I ran an online search for mention of Belcher in the last 24 hours, and came up with *crickets*.

Despite KCPD Chief Graves’ words, guns and gun violence have become an ordinary part of ordinary life, and not just in Kansas City. We use them to end our own lives, when we feel things are so out of control in our lives that ending it all seems like the only solution. We use them to settle beefs in our homes, either by using them to threaten or using them to kill. We use them to settle beefs in our communities. We use them to settle beefs in our nation.

And all that world-wide coverage of the Chiefs that Clark Hunt and Mayor Lucas talked about is now going to come back to bite Kansas City. In Europe, every major shooting in the US makes folks wary about traveling here. Now, even as Kansas City worked hard to win the right to host several games in the 2026 World Cup, this shooting will make hosting those games that much more difficult — and not just in Kansas City. Who wants to risk their lives for a sporting event?

This was not the first shooting involving the Chiefs. It wasn’t the first shooting of the year in Kansas City, or even the first shooting of the day in Kansas City. As one local sports talk-radio host said yesterday, Kansas City has joined the list of cities where you say the name and everyone thinks about guns and violence and death, like Uvalde or Sandy Hook. When folks say “Super Bowl rally”, it will evoke the same memories as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (which happened on Valentine’s Day six years ago!), the Pulse Nightclub, and Columbine High School. This is who we are, now.

I’ll say it again: no, Chief Graves, this *is* who we are. It’s who we are, in Kansas City and across the country. The gun in that photo above lists for the low, low price of $2999.99 at It is, however, out of stock. Why doesn’t that surprise me?

Until we learn to argue with one another without leaping to violence, the question is not if there will be another shooting like this, but where it will be. I’m not one of those folks who were asking “how could this happen here?” yesterday. My question is simply “Who is next?”


Corrected to note that Ralph Yarl survived being shot. I inadvertently mixed up that shooting with another event.

91 replies
  1. EW Moderation Team says:

    A reminder to all new and existing community members participating in comments:

    — We have been moving to a new minimum standard to support community security over the last year. Usernames should be unique and a minimum of a minimum of 8 letters.

    — We do not require a valid, working email, but you must use the same email address each time you publish a comment here. **Single use disposable email addresses do not meet this standard.**

    — If you have been commenting here but have less than 1000 comments published and been participating less than 10 years as of October 2022, you must update your username to match the new standard.

    Thank you.

    • Datnotdat says:

      We do need to learn to argue with each other without leaping to violence. There is something else we need even more acutely, and even more effectively, which is to take all guns, with virtually no exceptions, out of private hands. The natural experiments have already been done. We know this is effective! (Please, before you set me straight, note I’m sayin “effective” not “easy.”) Keep in mind this course cannot end all murders, cannot even end all murders by gun. We can’t even expect this course to lower the number of assaults. All we can expect is it to lower the number of assaults that end in gun shots. (Lowering the number of non-fatal gunshot wounds is also worth striving for.) Fewer gun deaths is a goal worthy of our “thoughts and prayers.”

      Didn’t some Westerns end with the good people of the town ruling guns could no longer be worn on their streets? Is there something we can learn and or use from this, our imagined history?

      • jsrtheta says:

        It isn’t “imagined” history Many, many towns in the “Old West” banned carrying guns within city limits. It was the first sign you saw on entering Dodge City.

        Hollywood did us no favors with the violence-glorifying fairy tales about gunmen.

      • Peterr says:

        We have managed to come to societal agreement that with very limited and explicit exceptions, guns do not belong on airplanes or in airport terminals. Hijackings have dwindled down to almost zero, with 9/11 being the most obvious counter-example (and we note that 9/11 did not involve guns).

        We’ve come to the same conclusion with federal courthouses (and some local courthouses). Metal detectors are now common, as are limited checkpoints for entry and egress. If you want to kill a judge, you have to shoot them at the grocery store or at their own home.

        What we have not come to anything approaching consensus on is something as large-scale as you are discussing. I have parishioners who have guns for hunting, others who have them out of a perceived need to defend themselves, others who have them for both reasons, and still others who have no guns at all. Until you can come up with a way to bring consensus to these four groups, calling your proposal “not easy” is a vast understatement.

        • Allagashed says:

          There will be no consensus reached, that much is guaranteed. If Datnotdat would like to see a real, honest-to-god shooting war, then he need only make good on his desire to take guns away from everyone; because he will get one. As a farmer in a very rural area of the country, a rifle is a necessary piece of farming equipment. You literally can’t, nor should you, be without one.

          • EuroTark says:

            I live in a country where there’s a long history of firearm ownership for hunting and sporting purposes, and have a rather large registered gun-ownership for civilians. During the cold war it was common for the home guard to store their fully-automatic 7.62mm rifles at home. What we do have is a very clear legal framework for how weapons and ammunition can be bought, stored and transported. You are required to store your weapons in designated locked safes, and for sporting purposes are mostly stored at your gunclub.

            My impression is that this works very well, and while there are still illegal guns in use by criminal elements, this is mainly limited to old and badly maintained weapons. We’ve had two mass-shootings/terrorist attacks in the last years; the worst attack was made using a legally purchased semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14, while the other was an illegaly obtained WW2 vintage MP40. Both of these would very likely have been worse if the attackers had high capacity fully-automatic weapons.

            My point is that it is entirely possible to regulate civilan gun ownership without having to “take guns away from everyone”.

      • Datnotdat says:

        Peterr, perhaps I should have put a snark tag on my calling this goal “not easy.” Jsrtheta, Amen to your last sentence. Allagashed, a farmer has a good case to be made for having a gun. Our duck guns have a slug in the magazene preventing the loading of more than three shells. Don’t our fellow citizens deserve as much protection as our ducks? EuroTark, I don’t know what country you are in, but what you describe sounds very much like Switzerland. You underscore my point that the natural experiments are already done, and we can choose which we like. As you say, “It is entirely possible to regulate civilian gun ownership…” It also remains true that the tighter we circumscribe that circle of gun ownership the less random gun shots in the night, the less gunshot wounds, and the less gunshot deaths (not excepting suicide) we will have.

  2. bird of passage says:

    The slight hesitation of KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas, before he answered a question about the mass murder, was poignant.

    That pause, that should have lead any thinking person to imagine for themselves just what happens when guns go off in a crowded space filled with children and adults … before he answered, “That’s what guns do” needs to be broadcast far and wide.

    A moment to imagine, then the answer. “That’s what guns do.”

    I can only hope the NFL, the Swifties, the fantastic Parkland kids, Gabby Gifford and whoever else wants to join in takes this message to the streets.

    Thank you, Peterr. Beautifully written and so necessary to read.

  3. Rayne says:

    Thank you for this post, Peterr.

    A lifelong friend of mine who lives in KS sent a text yesterday, saying they were safe and not at Union Station for the Super Bowl ceremony. When their text arrived I had only just seen news about the shooting and hadn’t looked any further into the event, hadn’t crossed my mind for some stupid reason that my friend might have been at Union Station along with so many other people from KS and MO.

    It wasn’t until later that I realized it was a year and a day ago I had been writing a post here with live coverage of the mass shooting at Michigan State University, where my youngest still had friends on campus.

    Who’s next, indeed.

    • BRUCE F COLE says:

      Much of my extended family texted me after the Lewiston, ME massacres last year, when the shooter was still at large (but dead in a trailer by his own hand). We’re about 45 minutes from where that happened, so I was on the lookout for the vehicle in question until they found the guy. My family and friends out of state were genuinely concerned that I needed to know what had happened in case I wasn’t aware.

      I have thought about a short story, “The Bound Man” by Ilse Aichinger, and how it has some relevance to American life at this time in history. “How do you do it?” is the logical question my Spanish ex-son in law posed once, regarding how Americans lived with the ubiquitous threat of gun violence in our society. Somehow we go on with our lives as if we aren’t constricted by it.

      Perhaps not coincidentally in this context, Jewish/Catholic-assimilated Aichinger grew up in Nazi controlled Vienna.

  4. Ginevra diBenci says:

    Peterr, thank you. In particular, thank you for the reminder that although mass shootings make national news, it’s the “gun violence” we don’t think of that claims the majority of lives. Accidents. Alcohol-fueled disputes. And, overwhelmingly, suicides; a gun will render a momentary impulse lethal as no other means can.

    In a nation swamped by unaddressed mental health problems, especially depression and addiction, pouring millions of guns into the mix is like dropping the proverbial match into spilled gasoline. Politicians, especially on the GOP side, convince voters that the victims of this toxic brew are just “them,” “those people,” the ones who “made bad choices” instead of “taking personal responsibility.” I’ve been appalled to hear friends struggling to stay in recovery still blaming themselves for being “bad” or “evil” in getting addicted originally; should they relapse, they risk being claimed by the despair that this blame-the-victim cycle perpetuates. With a gun, that could mean the end.

    A culture that conceives of groups as disposable, whether immigrants or poor Americans, has no incentive to change. “Let them eat guns” has been their mantra for decades. It’s on us to stop the feeding frenzy.

    • Peterr says:


      And speaking of suicide, the post-mortem on Jovan Belcher indicated he had CTE from all the hits he made/took as a linebacker, despite being only a third year professional.

      • LaMissy! says:

        The research on CTE, much of it out of Boston University, has been the only information that has made me re-evaluate my opinion of OJ Simpson.

        Thank you for this post, Peterr.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Those hits start taking their insidious tally when players like Belcher are children, as you know, Peterr. Before their brains have fully developed, they’re being destroyed.

        OJ was a running back, less likely to get tackled (and in his case fast enough to mostly elude tackles). He’s reached a pretty ripe age mostly intact. Not sure if any CTE escape clause exists in his case. He seems to me more like a case of violent sociopathy.

  5. Fancy Chicken says:

    I have a rule of no news after 4pm to keep myself sane. Other than a brief comment in the previous post this is the first I have read about the shooting.

    Peterr, as much as your heart must be paining right now and as distressing, cathartic or both it must have been to write this post I want you to know how meaningful it was for me to read your take of the event before reading about it from my legacy media subscriptions that I check after EW.

    Reporting on mass shooting events has become so formulaic, just like the responses to it by our leaders, that it deepens the emotional disconnect for the reader rather than working to eliminate it. Sometimes I wonder if this intentional or subconsciously directed by journalists and editors despite the many passionate pieces about “combating” gun violence. Even our own colloquial discourse on dealing with rampant gun violence is couched in terms of violence.

    The nuances and factors that color this shooting particular to Kansas City are personal and powerful in your telling and have touched me deeply this morning.

    I am grateful to the heartache you have given me today. We need more framing around these events to humanize and particularize them as you’ve done here. Thank you again.

    • Error Prone says:

      Data matters.
      People die from a host of things. Suicide is low on the list of top 15 causes of death, while homicide is not within the top 15.

      Young people do not die in great numbers. They age. Yet gun deaths now is reported to top the list over auto accidents.

      The NRA has attempted to squelch research into gun deaths, for obvious economic reasons. But read that CNN item, mean streets are why young males in particular carry. Policing being distrusted in some communities is part of what needs research, how to police better and gain a trust benefit? How much to fund policing?

      But how do you fix mean streets? You study and you fund, but the economics of things for young black males in neighborhoods where black residency is the norm, is clearly a place to start looking. With objective intent. Mass shootings get press attention, but are relatively rare. Teenagers and handguns are more prevalent, and hand wringing over the KC shooting is distracting from where attention and investment might matter more than study of mass shooters or serial killers. Both exist, but in actually small numbers. Both get disproportionate press attention.

      One question, for those who’ve read KC reporting – was the shooting via handguns or long guns? Has that key fact been reported? A guess at it being handguns makes sense.

      • Peterr says:

        The guns involved have not yet been identified publicly. They are known to have fired in a spray, not as single shots.

        Also, because the two folks who were detained are under 18, the way information is processed is different because they are minors. A lot of things will not be released unless and until the two are certified to stand trial as adults (which everyone expects will be pursued by the prosecutors office rather quickly).

  6. Tony Covatta says:

    Second Amendment Rights, as they have morphed under the massaging of our gun tolerant SCOTUS now impinge on the prior rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, more basic bedrock rights that form the purposed foundation of our democracy. The Second Amendment is not a sacred cow, but it is being treated as one just as irremediable as the indiscriminate violence that stems from open possession of guns.

    Everyone should read the recent common sense decision of the Hawaii Supreme Court on gun possession. It very well may be struck down by our gun loving SCOTUS, but it certainly should not be. Struck down or not, it embodies a blueprint for how we should move forward to rescue the USA from this gun engendered nightmare.

    • Ed Walker says:

      Agreed. I refer to the murder-neutral SCOTUS majority. I refuse to call any of them by their preferred honorific.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      So well said, thank you.

      And our SCOTUS doesn’t have to have to worry (as much) about being the targets of gun nuts since they get added protections. It’s hard to decide “justice” if your only experience is from within protected areas.

  7. -mamake- says:

    Thank you so much Peterr, for bringing personal, local knowledge to this situation. Beautifully written and important context. I’m glad you weren’t there and am so sorry for all who were directly impacted.

  8. Tech Support says:

    Thank you Peterr! Easily the best piece on yesterday’s events I’ve run across so far, though sadly that’s not a high bar to leap.

  9. PeteT0323 says:

    That you as well Peter – and than you for also mentioning MSD.

    Now that’s an infamous anniversary that will always be a dark cloud over Valentine’s Day around my parts (Park land Coral Springs). I live a mere2 miles or less from MSD.

    I happened to be on the hi way passing MSD and saw the “all the cops cars in the world” on the Sawgrass Expressway descending on – where I did not know at the time – MSD.

    • missinggeorgecarlin says:

      My father died from a gunshot. I also grew up about 5 miles or less from MSD in a part of W. Boca Raton called “Sandalfoot Cove”.

      It was the 1980s and the area that became Parkland was just swamp and woods. I used to take my car out on Lox(ahatchee) Road to “bury the needle” (see how fast it would go).

      In middle and high school in the 1980s it NEVER occurred to me….not a single time, that somebody might bring a gun to my school. My friend’s elementary school age kid has to do ‘active shooter drills’. It makes me sick…

      It was around that time George Carlin said: “Wait til you see guns in schools and churches.” I laughed hysterically because that seemed impossible. How naive I was. Check out what Australian comedian Jim Jeffries says on this subject…he’s funny and wise.

      Thank you, Peterr.

  10. Purple Martin says:

    Thank you Peterr. I think some of what you relate ties into former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s social theory of Defining Deviancy Down. That is, increasing general acceptance of harmful, degrading influences in society inevitably results in a general coarsening of that society. Another name is the social contagion effect.

    This coarsening, this contagion, is exhibited through an impact on the social compact—that set of mostly unwritten rules and norms people display in their common interactions with others.

    American-unique gun violence is the predictable collateral damage of a society that has been convinced to equate firearms, to freedom. When enough people, through social contagion, decide that it is necessary to always carry a firearm—against all evidence that for nearly all people, personal safety today is less at risk than it has been in all of U.S. history—society has been coarsened. That is, societal trust is lessened, paranoia increased.

    If nothing else, America’s gun culture promotes far more instances of potential gun-use-as-social-interaction than in our worldwide peer societies. The expectation of gun violence combined with the presence of more guns in more places, predictably increases gun violence. It Defines Deviancy Down.

    The extended family I grew up with were once matter-of-fact hunters and therefore gun owners. It’s been heartbreaking, over decades, to watch malevolent societal actors turn that into a cultish veneration, and my family shift their perception of guns from tools into totemic symbols of worship.

    Because, after all: The roots of the Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of celebrating sports fans.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      I would so like an “upvote” button on this site because so many comments, including/especially yours are particularly good. But I also don’t like to litter the comments with my “likes” (which I just did.)

  11. Bobby Gladd says:

    My elder grandson, his wife and their son, my great grandson, live in Kansas City. When I first learned of this shooting, I had to keep from panicking. I contacted them immediately, and to my utter relief they were not anywhere near the situation and were all fine. I remain aghast, however, at the terrible misfortunes of those wounded and killed.

  12. Annie Oakley says:

    I have lived in the Kansas City area for 30+ years. Sadly, this tragedy has always been a question of when for KC, and not if. Killing is just too common here, every dang day.

    Thank you for your eloquent post. It is poignant and heartfelt.

    One small note, Ralph Yurl was not killed (which does not diminish that atrocity one bit). I believe he is finishing his senior year of high school.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I thought Mr. Yarl had survived; reading he died depressed me so much I couldn’t bear to look it up. So I greatly appreciate your gentle, respectful correction on this important fact, Annie Oakley. I pray the future treats him better than his hometown did.

  13. BobBobCon says:

    The city where I live has seen a major drop in murders in the past couple of years, and it’s happened against the backdrop of a couple of things.

    One is the big expansion of an early intervention program which identifies people with a high likelihood of becoming a shooter (such as someone picked up for a less serious crime) and then diverting them into things like drug treatment and employment programs, along with followups to monitor compliance and progress.

    Another is the apparent success of a DOJ consent decree which has resulted in a big drop in frivolous arrests and showy get-tough efforts which get dismissed as soon as a judge sees the weak case.

    It’s early, and there are of course a lot of factors that go into murder rates. But I think the evidence is clear that the best way out of worsening cycles of violence is an approach which both focuses on early interventions and steering people away from violence, along with a big change in police strategy away from a simple minded get tough approach.

    Violence rips apart communities, and then broken communities multiply violence. Which is why there’s a huge value in simultaneously shrinking violence and building communities, and moving past the idiotic collapse of American cities narrative that thrives in both the right wing press and the supposedly enlightened establishment press. Old habits die hard in that crowd, though.

    • Error Prone says:

      I agree with all you’ve written. However, there are two things at play. You write of disarming growing urban gun violence. Most often involving handguns.

      The post is about a mass shooting. Those are knottier problems, yet involve proportionately fewer deaths. The steps you mention are all sensible urban handgun violence answers.

      Mass shooting, something which gets great press coverage likely gains less research money, where research into gun violence and death cuts against the industry, which lobbies.

      How can you deter mass shootings which seem to never involve persons without deep problems and resentments?

      It needs study. Youths carrying firearms in urban contexts is a differing problem, both needing study – and funding.

  14. Ed Walker says:

    Like Fancy Chicken above, I don’t read news in the pm, except a bit of social media. I don’t watch TV news, and quit watching late night TV, which I like, because there’s just no way to make Trump funny, even for Colbert, Stewart, and Kimmel, and that’s before we get to the current wars.

    Reading the media is horrible. Fancy Chicken calls it formulaic, which is perfectly accurate, but it doesn’t convey the stupidity, the heartlessness of the coverage. And then it disappears, as if making room for the next one.

    The stupidity of the politicians is equally unbearable. The right-wingers with their smarmy platitudes after refusing to take even minimal steps are sickening. I feel like they have an intern with 3 different responses ready to pour on me like soothing medicine for the disaster sickness.

    The media, the politicians, and the police won’t face the emotional cost of the carnage. They won’t hold anyone accountable beyond the murderers. It’s just a job, as if they were the undertakers soothing the families of the dead.

    And then they trot the families of the dead out to play their roles. If they’re Black or Hispanic, they have to forgive and urge peace. If they’re white they have to plead for legislation.

    None of this is cathartic. It’s nauseating.

    • CaptainCondorcet says:

      There was a mass shooting at a Congressional baseball game and still nothing was done. A member of the Republican leadership was literally shot and nothing was done. Because even a Bernie-loving, Republican-targeting mass shooter wasn’t enough for certain legislators to wonder if there might be underlying problems that could be fixed. May I add “deeply depressing” to your list of adjectives as well.

    • BobBobCon says:

      I don’t know about Kansas City but across the state in St. Louis shootings are the lowest they’ve been in a decade, and like in my city this follows major increases in community engagement along with a big shift in police strategy toward more constructive methods.

      There’s a bizarre attitude in the press that nothing can be done about gun violence in America, when the truth is that some of the most economically disadvantaged and politically alienated communities in the country are taking major steps toward that goal. Which of course is why reporting on the drop is so paltry.

      And of course you can see the contrarians trying come up with reasons why much wealthier, more engaged places can’t do what their struggling counterparts can. The reality, though, is that changing how this country deals with people with violent tendencies, domestic abuse, people with intense psychological needs, and of course ridiculously loose gun laws can make a huge difference everywhere.

      If the poorest cities in America can do it, so can the rest of the country. And breaking the grip of the GOP is a critical piece of it all.

      • Peterr says:

        In Missouri, the state government took over the police boards of Kansas City and St. Louis decades ago, ostensibly to get it out from under the thumbs of local bosses. St. Louis finally got there police board back a couple years ago, which has made some of those changes you mentioned possible. Kansas City has tried but failed to get local control, and the GOP in Jefferson City is scheming to find a way to take the St. Louis police board over once more.

        • BobBobCon says:

          In much the same way that the GOP has decided to blow up any and all chances of immigration reform in order to try to profit off of chaos, they work overtime to increase chaos in America’s cities.

          I think it’s awfully interesting that Detroit has seen huge drops in shootings and it’s coincided with a much more harmonious relationship with the state government after Democrats took over. I think examples like this are potentially an effective way to turn GOP attacks on crime against them. Crime turned out to be a muted campaign issue for the GOP in 2022, and it is possible that further demogoguery only strengthens the opinion of the types of voters who flipped NY03 that the GOP is nuts.

          • Peterr says:

            In Missouri, this event will be used to strengthen the GOP’s position in the rural parts of the state. “See? Those folks in the big city don’t know how to handle their guns. This is why we need to keep ours, so that if Those People try that in a small town, we can take care of things.”

            Seriously – that is a Standard Republican Talking point in the reddest parts of MIssouri. While traveling through one such town in 2021, I came upon multiple stores with signs saying “No Masks Allowed.” The funeral homes were rather busy there at the height of COVID, but that won’t stop them from promoting their twisted version of “Freedom!”

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          In “Houston, we have a problem” structurally similar to this, in which the state GOP has descended upon Harris County in the name of “fixing” it. Folks from Michigan know what that means. It’s the Bain Capitol approach to blue cities: drain their assets and leave them in ruins, human wreckage be damned.

  15. Sue Romano says:

    I was just last week attending a conference for public housing at the Mohegan Sun. I attended a workshop on violence in the workplace (Run. Hide. Fight), when a fellow commissioner noted all the signs upon entering the venue: no guns allowed. Go gamble in safety. Great essay!

  16. MsJennyMD says:

    Thank you Peterr. Perhaps the Chiefs and the NFL will help with gun reform considering they have experienced a senseless tragedy in their community. They could give a big voice to a subject that has fallen on deaf ears in congress. Sadly, “Who is next?”

    • Peterr says:

      Given the branding on the gun in the photo, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s well-documented desire to suck up any and all money possible, regardless of the source, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      And, in less visible way, a large number of football players own guns, many because of stalkers and others that threaten them. Search “NFL Players owning guns”.

  17. BobPDX2023 says:

    Thanks Peterr. KC is my hometown so I was following this story closely as it developed. I appreciate your insight; a necessary and poignant addition to what I’ve read so far.
    I interned at KMBC-TV one summer while I was in college during the 80’s. On the first day my new boss introduced me to a group of employees, one of whom was Len Dawson. My boss said to me “And of course you know who this guy is!” Not being a football fan (at the time) I stupidly replied “You bet, you’re the sports anchor!”
    Not my finest moment.

    • Peterr says:


      I’m sure they are still telling stories about you at KMBC. I can hear a supervisor talking to an intern who made some kind of mistake: “You think you screwed up? That’s nothing! We had this one guy who met Len Dawson and thought he was the sports anchor. You’ll be fine.”

    • ExRacerX says:

      Back in the ’90s a friend of mine living in Seattle was hired by Amazon to answer the phones.

      On his first day, a caller asked to be switched to Jeff Bezos. Bezos was not yet a household name, so my buddy located his extension in the directory and transferred the call. It was also his final day of work there.

  18. Badger Robert says:

    Dude, definitely above average post. There is a connection between blasting out lunatic conspiracy theories, and lunatics blasting away with their firearms. It all seemed so funny, until the heartbreaking but hardly surprising news went out.
    The stochastic terrorists are a domestic enemy. The national executive is supposed to be protecting us.
    The failures of other branches to act is not a legitimate excuse for the President.

  19. wetzel-rhymes-with says:

    Mass murder is a ritual now in American life like Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery that we allow to continue because it is cathartic and allows Americans to feel they are alive, a crises resolved with thoughts and prayers and candle-light vigils afterwards.

  20. Yohei1972 says:

    Thank you for this eloquent and sadly needed commentary, Peterr.

    One happy correction is in order – Ralph Yarl was not killed when he was shot for Ringing A Doorbell While Black. He in fact seems to be doing well, under the circumstances, is a high school senior and Honors student, and plans to go to college to study engineering in the fall, possibly at U of M.

    No thanks to the man who shot him and could have easily put him in the grave.

    EDIT: Whoops, I see I was beaten to this. In my defense, I started the post earlier, got distracted and forgot to hit submit until just now.

  21. Matt Foley says:

    “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
    Pretty sure there were dozens of good guys with guns on duty at the parade.

  22. Greg Hunter says:

    I know I will get the correlation causation argument as I always do, but I will post the links to the high crime areas and the high lead areas in KC.  It has been my contention that lead exposure makes one erratic and when you add an accelerant like Meth or Crack you get a synergistic effect.   Watching the First 48 has convinced me that Meth is the worst drug on the planet in relation to causing wanton violence.  PS I think Meth is far worse than any coca leaf derived product.

    Rayne maybe the images cannot be posted and if not please kill the whole comment.  

    Here is the link for the elevated lead blood levels.

    Here is the link for the crime map.

    • Rayne says:

      Only mod and admin level have image privileges, sorry. I think your comment with the links still has value even without images, though.

      • Greg Hunter says:

        I has actually checked my image html and I thought they appeared and disappeared so explaining this to me helps me understand what happened.

        [FYI – HTML tags including IMG are limited for security reasons. I’m sure if you think about it you can understand why, though even A HREF can pose a threat if moderators and commenters are not aware of the risk. Thanks for understanding. /~Rayne]

    • Peterr says:

      Given that the people in the crowd came from all over KC, plus the surrounding area in KS and MO, plus some neighboring states . . . it’s hard to make the connection you are suggesting without specific information about where detained folks live.

      • Greg Hunter says:

        Thanks for the response and I realize this specific issue cannot be tied to Lead, but the prevalence of this neurotoxin in areas where high crime and wanton drug use should get more scrutiny. I realize people discount this theory, but the more I study it the more I find it valid. My cohort of high school friends were far more erratic in life choices than the kids they produced.

        Your post allowed me to search for KC links to Lead and it did not disappoint. What was disappointing was that the literature on Lead ignoring a key source of exposure was not mentioned, the residual amounts in the soil in these neighborhoods.

  23. ExRacerX says:

    As has already been expressed numerous times, thanks for this post, Peterr. Apparently the latest news is that the shooting stemmed from a “dispute, not terrorism.”

    Thin comfort, I’ll admit. Whatever a mass shooter’s motive may be, the damage wrought upon their victims—killed, injured, or otherwise traumatized, and their friends and families—is the same.

  24. Zirczirc says:

    One of my old professors at the University of Arkansas was later shot dead by an angry grad student. A friend and yoga bud of mine was on vacation in Las Vegas the night of the 2017 shooting that killed 60 people and wounded hundreds. One of my recently retired direct reports was in the hospital for an operation related to his diabetes. His wife took the day off to be with him. That day DeWayne Craddock went to the Municipal Building in Virginia Beach and killed twelve people while wounding four. She would have been in the reception area had she gone to work. Ironically, he and she are very right-wing and virulent in their misreadings of the 2nd Amendment. Shortly after that shooting, my brother-in-law was parking his car in the parking lot of a WalMart in El Paso, where 23 people were killed. The shooting started just as he was making his way to go in. In my home of Southern Maryland, my three children went to the high school where a 17-year-old killed a young woman and was killed himself. They had already graduated, but it’s just down the road, and I got caught up in the traffic when it happened.

    I’m just one guy, and that’s a lot of incidents with not many degrees of separation. While I do suspect that the US is a more violent country than others, especially in the South; even if it isn’t the ready availability of guns, especially powerful guns capable of firing many rounds quickly, increases the lethality of our violence. In the developed world, it really is an only in the US problem.


    • John Lehman says:

      How have the cultures most similar to U.S. (Australian, Canadian, New Zealand) handled gun violence? Australia seemed to have gun violence almost as bad as ours at one time but have improved. What can we learn from those countries or from even Switzerland (where every male over 18 owns a gun by law)?

      • ExRacerX says:

        Maybe if the members of SCOTUS went walkabout for a month in the country’s Interior, Crocodile Dundee-style (sans Secret Service, of course), they’d see the light?

        Probably not.

        • John Lehman says:

          The official reaction at both places was stricter gun laws. The official reaction to the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting…(more people killed [60] than the total at Port Arthur and Dunblane together)…….nothing……crickets…shame-full silence.

  25. Molly Pitcher says:

    Important development from David Weiss, according to Daily Beast.

    DOJ Accuses Ex-FBI Informant of Lying About Biden’s Ukraine Dealings “Special counsel David Weiss on Thursday indicted an ex-confidential informant for the FBI who infamously provided derogatory information about Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s involvement in business dealings with Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.

    Alexander Smirnov, 43, was charged with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record, the Department of Justice announced.

    He was taken into custody Wednesday at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas after returning from a trip overseas. He’s slated to make his first court appearance on Thursday afternoon.”

    Looks like Weiss has a scapegoat for why they haven’t found a smoking gun.

  26. Purple Martin says:

    Oh, that picture. The one of the American Modern Sporting Rifle (the name the gun industry helpfully gives their semi-automatic knock-offs of the military assault rifle) sporting the logo and in the cheerful colors of Kansas City’s NFL Team.

    Somewhere there are pictures from a Christmas morning in 1964, of me at 10 years old, unwrapping and then holding up my new Johnny Seven OMA.*

    In those pictures, brandishing my weapon of choice with a gleeful grin, I look exactly like any number of Republican candidates in their campaign commercials and family Christmas cards. (Search “Massie Family Christmas Card”—yeah, guy at lower left is holding the same pose, grinning the same grin).

    I thought my Toy Modern Sporting Rifle was really cool. But I was 10 years old.

    *One-Man Army! Seven weapons in one! (TV commercial)

    • Henry the Horse says:

      Great writing Peterr and under duress I would imagine. These things are just hard.

      I am a Michigan State University alum. The shooting there at Berkey Hall was the location of my mentors office. The TV coverage kept showing a door I had been in and out of hundreds of times, albeit 40 years ago. The image of that door flashes in my mind often. I don’t think it will go away soon.

      I grew up in a city where gun violence was, and is today, a daily occurrence. As a child Detroit was called the murder capital of the world. We have come a long way !

      I guess I am saying we knew in the city it could be dangerous and made adjustments.

      But now, the incongruity of this happening at Super Bowl parades, or idyllic college campuses, or at church or synagogue makes it almost unbearable.

      When I attended the 1984 Detroit Tigers victory parade, in “murder city USA”, (copyright by Republican Party) I never thought about the possibility of a mass shooting.

      I guess we can no longer celebrate or worship or anything else without playing the Lottery.

      Shoutout to poster above that mentioned my favorite short story.

  27. Lit_eray says:

    Peterr, your message is poignant. PTSD triggered. Fortunately my coping mechanism is tears – not more violence.

  28. tmooretxk says:

    When I was in high school in the 60s, one of my classmates’ family was on a very rare vacation in Austin, and climbed to the UT Tower observation deck just as that shooter started firing. He killed the youngest boy, did permanent damage to the older son, and put the mother in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. They, my classmate and her father were pinned there until help finally came. As awful as those events were, the intervening years have only gotten more insane, and I personally credit Wayne LaPierre and the NRA for normalizing and profitting from mass shootings, with unflinching support from Republicans and the Right Wing Noise Machine. Fear sells guns and elects despots.

  29. EuroTark says:

    Firstly, my condolences on yet another pointless mass-shooting. Secondly, thank you for those very well-written words Peterr.

    Speaking as an European who is pretty fascinated by the concept of America (as many of us are), I have very mixed feelings about travelling “over there”. My previous visit was back in 2014, and while parts of me want to explore more I don’t see myself travelling for several reasons. Part of it is the security aspect you bring up, but the hassle that has become of entering your borders has also taken it’s toll and makes me feel not welcome. We “only” get the biggest mass-shootings in our news feeds, but they still make an impression on us.

    I have a colleague that’s been spending each summer in the US for the past 10 years, but has decided that last year was the last. He also didn’t feel welcome anymore, and started feeling that everyone was taking advantage of the tourists. One example he mentioned was all sorts of hidden fees and “taxes”; the restaurant menu would list a $15 hamburger but by the time you got to the register it would cost $25 with all sorts of hidden fees tacked on.

  30. Veritas Sequitur says:

    Condolences to the good people of Missouri caught in this dangerous gun violence. The Show Me State perennially suffers from one of the worst firearm mortality rates in the country, and the state has some of the weakest gun regulations in the nation. Republicans lawmakers irresponsibly push an extreme agenda of controversial gun lobbyist groups. All elected officials across Missouri would do well to work very hard to reduce tragic gun deaths & injuries of children, women, & men.

  31. gruntfuttock says:


    You write so beautifully about this monstrosity, which is what it is: this desire to be ready and able to kill our fellow humans. (And so many who claim to follow the man of peace are the most ardent advocates for increasing everybody’s ability to kill their neighbours.)

    It fucks my mind up. Why would any human being want to cause that sort of pain and suffering?

    As XTC sang: Melt the guns, melt the guns, melt the guns, never more to fire them.

    I wish.

    Somebody suggested recently in a letter to New Scientist that climate change might be Lovelock’s Gaia principle in action: humans are so damaging to the planet that it is shifting it’s equilibrium to make us, if not redundant, then at least inconsequential.

    If so, more fool us.

    • Epicurus says:

      “Why would any human being want to cause that sort of pain and suffering?”

      From South Pacific, as has been noted by others here before:

      You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
      You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
      It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear—
      You’ve got to be carefully taught!

      You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
      Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
      And people whose skin is a different shade—
      You’ve got to be carefully taught.

      You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
      Before you are six or seven or eight,
      To hate all the people your relatives hate—
      You’ve got to be carefully taught!
      You’ve got to be carefully taught!

  32. yydennek says:

    Clarifying and expanding on Peterr’s “connections”
    Harrison Butker (ashes on forehead) posed with Senate candidate Mark McClosey. In a St. Louise neighborhood, the McCluskey couple gained national attention for pointing guns at racial injustice protestors. There is some suggestion that Josh Hawley and Harrison Butker are on the same page which wouldn’t be surprising (Josh Hawley worked at Becket Law- a Catholic version of ADF). Butker is anti-abortion, Catholic and, if statistics indicate something, more than likely, Republican (63% of White Catholics who attend church regularly voted for Trump in 2020, a 3% increase from 2016).
    Butker is also connected with the widely advertised (recent) Catholic prayer app, Hallow, the creation of Sen. JD Vance (GOP). Vance converted to Catholicism in timing similar to his political ambitions.

  33. timbozone says:

    Wow. He actually said that this wasn’t Kansas City after this happened? Ugh. What world do these politicians live in? This is Kansas City. And it is the United States as well when there is no liability that gun manufacturers can be hit with for the violent deaths their products cause to us each and every day.

Comments are closed.