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The mayor of Kansas City recounts the shooting at a Super Bowl celebration

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Chiefs fans lined the streets of downtown Kansas City yesterday, hoping to catch a glimpse of their Super Bowl-winning football team and celebrate with friends and neighbors. The festivities, though, ended in an all-too-familiar tragedy - a mass shooting that left one person dead and more than 20 injured. Quinton Lucas is the mayor of Kansas City, and he joins us now. Mayor Lucas, thanks for joining us on such a difficult day for your city.

QUINTON LUCAS: Thank you for having me, and it's good to talk to you.

SUMMERS: I mean, Kansas City is a city that is so intensely devoted to its sports team, particularly its football team, as you and I both know well. And yesterday was supposed to be a day of joy. What is your message for people who are having a hard time making sense of what happened there?

LUCAS: You know, there are two things that I have said generally. First is I'm sorry. I was someone who brought my own family to this event. I was someone who had to flee at a shooting. I saw big, giant football players and 8- or 9-year-old children and all types of people running away from harm. I saw officers running in. And the odd thing was, it seemed as if the children were the ones who knew how to handle a mass shooting better than most, as perhaps they've gone through drills and others. It was horrifying. And in many ways, the city, although we certainly had a number of officers and snipers and cameras, we didn't get the job done. And that's something that will live with me for some time.

I think the second point is that it is OK to be upset today, even if you were not hit, even if no one in your family was. It's OK to to be confused and conflicted because, frankly, parades should be something that you can go to. You should be able to go to an outdoor event without worrying about - where a shooting may go off nearby. And that is something that I think is really resonating with lots of people. And there were many of them who were there yesterday.

SUMMERS: I understand that Lisa Lopez-Galvan, the woman who was killed yesterday, was known as DJ Lisa G, a popular local radio DJ who shared her love for Tejano music with Kansas Citians. Have you been able to get in touch with her family?

LUCAS: You know, I have not yet. I know her brother. I actually know her brother very well. He runs a Latino community organization in Kansas City. I know our police department and others have started working with victim advocacy. My goal has been to make sure that we give people just a few days before we inundate them with more calls and messages, but I do plan to speak to them, knowing the family, knowing their impact in our community and, sadly, knowing the heartbreak through their experience.

SUMMERS: Over the years, you have been outspoken on regulating guns, as your city has experienced record numbers of homicides in recent years. But at the same time, Missouri's Republican-led state legislature has repeatedly demonstrated a commitment to protecting the rights of gun owners. So, I mean, I just want to ask you, does this ever feel like being stuck between a rock and a hard place? What options do local leaders like yourself have to curb gun violence in their cities without running afoul of state laws?

LUCAS: One is stuck between a rock and a hard place. You can constantly run afoul of state laws. And indeed, in my state, there has been a Second Amendment Preservation Act that was supposed to mean that no federal law could supersede state law, which, as you might imagine, is against the U.S. Constitution - every effort where we try to simply say, at the end of the day, the guns matter, too. You know, I have had the chance to speak to you all before. And if there was a weakness, perhaps, of political debates in 2020 and 2021, was that it became an either-or. It's either you need more police or proper funding for them, or you need alternatives to violent crime and gun control. You know, it's not either-or. It's both. And in a city like mine where I've taken very serious flak in recent weeks, I proposed increasing police officer pay by 30%.

SUMMERS: Right.

LUCAS: We have proposed our highest police budget in our city's history. I think those are important things to do. But it's also important that we figure out a way to prevent. When you have 850 officers and folks who will act recklessly nearby them, who can still get off enough rounds to hit almost two dozen people within just a matter of moments, that tells us that the guns, that the types of guns that we have and their accessibility - easy availability is a problem. And that's a conversation that I will continue to have as long as I have some megaphone with which to share it.

SUMMERS: This is all incredibly fresh. But I do want to take a moment here to look forward. Kansas City is a city that loves it celebrations. And I know that there is a big St. Patrick's Day parade scheduled in your city for next month. Are you at this point thinking differently about public celebrations in light of this, the types of precautions that might need to be taken? You pointed out more than 800 officers were on the streets, and yet this still happened.

LUCAS: This is probably the hardest part of all for any of us who go to parades with our children, or for loved ones or friends, because I think we're starting to realize a challenge to everything we can do to keep ourselves safe. We can have more officers, and we will. We can have cameras and everything possible. But it is hard to fully protect ourselves if we're in a public space. If there is not a metal detector walking in, if there is not the sort of thing, frankly, that a parade just doesn't allow, then how can we ever fully be safe in a city, a state and perhaps a country where we know that people are freely walking around with AR-15s, with modified handguns with switches, with any number of issues, or frankly, even just your old classic revolver.

SUMMERS: Right.

LUCAS: If we know that one can act with impunity with that, then it's hard to say we'll ever be fully as safe as I think we'd like to idealize ourselves to be.

SUMMERS: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

LUCAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.
Erika Ryan
Erika Ryan is a producer for All Things Considered. She joined NPR after spending 4 years at CNN, where she worked for various shows and CNN.com in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Ryan began her career in journalism as a print reporter covering arts and culture. She's a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and currently lives in Washington, D.C., with her dog, Millie.