JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On Tuesday, the Missouri Senate delivered a bill to Governor Mike Parson’s desk that would impose tougher penalties for people who fire celebratory gunshots.
The legislation, known as Blair’s Law, had kicked around the state Capitol for more than a decade.
The legislation is named in honor of Blair Shanahan Lane of Independence, who died on July 4, 2011, after being struck in the neck by a falling bullet. She was 11.
Aaron Sullivan of Kansas City pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Sullivan, who owned the pistol that fired the fatal round, admitted that he and others were shooting the gun in celebration that evening. Sullivan served 18 months in prison.
Blair’s mother, Michele Shanahan DeMoss, has visited the capital several times in the years since, in a dogged pursuit to strengthen current laws on the books.
Under the language of Blair’s Law, “a person commits the offense of unlawful discharge of a firearm if, with criminal negligence, he or she discharges a firearm within or into the limits of a municipality.”
A first offense would be a class A misdemeanor, a class E felony for the second, and a class D felony for the third and all subsequent incidents. The misdemeanor carries a one-year maximum jail term and a fine up to $2,000. A class E felony is punishable by a four-year term, and a class D felony carries a seven-year maximum sentence.
Blair’s Law was part of a larger crime bill, SB 189, sponsored by State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer.