The Kansas City Star ran in full a “Dear Students” letter from Kansas City Mayor Sly James on the subject of assault weapons. Only in an environment without significant media pushback would a mayor dare to write so grossly inaccurate a letter.
One paragraph out of many stands out in what is clearly a political push to encourage young people to vote Democratic, facts be damned.
“I grew up in the ‘60s, graduating high school during the height of the Vietnam War in 1969,” writes James. “Students then were failed by the adult politicians who sent them off to a disfavored war, somewhat like the adult failure to do anything to protect them from gun violence now. Ironically, assault weapons were the weapons of choice in both settings.”
Almost everything James says about Vietnam is wrongheaded–“weapons of choice?”–but it is his claims about assault weapons that are so wrong as to be dishonest. Kudos to Tony’s Kansas City for detailing the absurdity of the mayor’s claim. What follows is a breakout of Kansas City’s 149 homicides by weapon of choice:
Blunt force hands or feet–5
Blunt force object–5
The year 2017 was not unusual in that handguns were used in 70 percent of murders. In 2016, handguns accounted for 72 percent of all Kansas City murders; in 2015, 73 percent; in 2014, 66 percent. In James’s letter, he cites the most lethal of all school shootings, that at Virginia Tech in 2007, but there the “weapons of choice” were also handguns.
The most salient of all statistics, however, Mayor James does not mention in his letter. He seems rather shy about the fact that he presided over a 96 percent increase in homicides from 2014 to 2017. A city that witnessed 76 murders in 2014 saw that number jump to 149 in 2017 with no sign of a slowdown in 2018. Instead of addressing the real issues behind this lethal spike, the mayor turned instead to Democratic talking points and blamed a class of weapons that had almost nothing to do with Kansas City’s murder surge.
As the mayor must know, the deeper problem is not even “guns” in general. In the average year, more Kansas Citians are knifed to death than are killed by any means in neighboring Johnson County, a county that has more residents than Kansas City and likely more guns.
How does James get away with such an egregious misdirection? Tony Botello sums it up: “It helps tremendously when the only daily newspaper is an echo chamber for the liberal Democrat anti-gun agenda. Add in the stable of local corporate news affiliates who regurgitate the Democratic Party/NYC/Hollywood attacks upon the American Constitution’s Second Amendment, and you have yourself some ammunition to distract the naïve student snowflakes, the JoCo suburbanites who venture across the state line for amusement activism, and those with an inclination for panderers.”