Chris Haxel | KBIA

Chris Haxel

Chris comes to KCUR as part of Guns & America, a reporting collaboration between 10 public media stations that is focused on the role of guns in American life. Hailing from Springfield, Illinois, Chris has lived in seven states and four counties. He previously served in the Army, and reported for newspapers in Kansas and Michigan. Chris lives in downtown Kansas City. He roots for St. Louis sports teams, which means he no longer cares about the NFL.

One day after the Jackson County Health Department told Bass Pro Shops to close its Independence store because it is a nonessential business, officials now say "the situation has changed."

Kayla Parker, a spokeswoman for the health department, said in an email Tuesday that officials are now "working with" Bass Pro Shops. She did not provide further information.

The store remained open Tuesday, with workers limiting customers inside the building to 50 at a time. There was no line outside the store. Inside, employees seemed to outnumber customers. 

FBI officials say a man they shot and killed Tuesday in Belton was the suspect in a "long-running domestic terrorism investigation" who planned to attack a Kansas City-area hospital with a car bomb.

In a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, the bureau's Kansas City office wrote that Timothy Wilson, 36, had been "actively planning to commit an act of domestic terrorism" over several months, and had considered several targets before settling on an area hospital.

In a ruling that could have implications for criminal cases nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled against a Kansas death row inmate who argued that the state's laws regarding the insanity defense are unconstitutional.

Kansas and three other states — Utah, Montana and Idaho — have banished the insanity defense as a formal mechanism. Alaska also has severe restrictions on its use.

Updated: Monday, March 23, 4:06 p.m.

In the metro area's ongoing effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, residents of Kansas City and Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri, and Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties in Kansas, will be ordered to stay at home for 30 days beginning on Tuesday, March 24.

On Sunday afternoon, Johnson County Public Health Officer Dr. Joseph LeMaster said the area had moved beyond the "containment phase," in which health professionals try to find out who has tested positive, locate their contacts and quarantine them.

Johnson County, Kansas, has logged its first fatality from the coronavirus, according to officials with the county's health department.

The victim is a man in his 70s who had underlying health conditions, said Barbara Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the department. The man was being treated at a Johnson County hospital. Mitchell declined to say which hospital or release further details.

For years, Kansas City, Missouri, has suffered from one of the highest homicide rates among big American cities.

A Missouri man who had a felony conviction expunged should get another chance to receive a permit to carry a concealed firearm, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.

A three-judge panel found that the Platte County Sheriff’s Office should not have rejected the man’s permit application simply because he pleaded guilty to a felony in 1991.

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Jimenez Arms, the Nevada-based gun manufacturer that Kansas City sued last month, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nevada.

The company’s bankruptcy petition listed assets of less than $50,000. That, coupled with more than $1,000,000 in outstanding liabilities, may make it difficult for Kansas City,  should it prevail in its lawsuit, to recover compensation from the company.

The man responsible for broadcasting Russian state programming in the Kansas City area says he always dreamed of owning a radio station.

Today he owns two, plus a small fleet of radio transmitters across the Kansas City metro.

Commuters interested in conspiracy theories about George Soros, Hillary Clinton and the Republican National Committee have a new option, courtesy of the Russian government.

Early this month, a radio station based in Liberty, Missouri, signed a three-year deal to broadcast Radio Sputnik across Kansas City.

The English-language programming airs for three hours each morning and again in the evening on three frequencies controlled by KCXL: 1140 AM, 102.9 FM and 104.7 FM.

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Once again, Kansas City, Missouri,  finds itself in the midst of a climb in homicides.

With city leaders scrambling to combat high levels of gun violence, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is dusting off an old legal tactic: suing the gun industry.

Such lawsuits were relatively common in the 1980s and 1990s, until Congress passed a law in 2005 that largely curtailed the tactic.

Kansas City violence this year has exceeded 2018 totals, and is approaching the modern high-water mark left in 2017, when the city tallied 151 homicides and 505 nonfatal shootings.

A year ago, police saw an improved homicide clearance rate as reason for optimism. This year, the clearance rate sagged while shootings and homicides rose.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas pushed through a couple of minor city ordinances that could help police target a small subset of gun crimes this year. Kansas City police raised the reward for homicide tips and shifted the focus of an existing anti-violence program. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson suggested passing gun laws that mirror existing federal law.

All the while, the city is still bleeding, on pace for about 150 homicides and another 500 nonfatal shootings by the end of the year.

Ahead of a presidential impeachment vote in the U.S. House, and with a trial looming in the Senate, hundreds of protesters gathered Tuesday evening outside the Overland Park, Kansas, office of U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in an effort to convince him to break with his Republican colleagues.

The House vote is expected to fall largely along party lines.

Roberts, who plans to retire when his fourth term expires next year, has not publicly stated how he intends to vote.

Eight-year-old Brian Bartlett was asleep in his home earlier this month when someone sprayed dozens of bullets into his bedroom. 

While his death was shocking, Kansas City is now four years into a wave of increased killings and officials are grasping for solutions.

Police quietly shifted their anti-violence strategy months ago. But it might not be the solution officials hope for.

A federal judge is holding the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas in contempt in connection with a burgeoning scandal involving recordings of confidential conversations between criminal defendants and their attorneys at a federal detention center in Leavenworth, Kansas.


During the first night of the second Democratic presidential debate, the question of how to reduce gun violence emerged as one issue on which the sometimes-splintered Democratic Party speaks with as close to one voice as it can.

"As your president, I will not fold," vowed Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., before rattling off her list of proposals, which included background checks, an assault weapons ban and "something" about magazines.

The summer months tend to be among the most violent, and Kansas City is on pace for more homicides than last year, so officials are offering something to help solve crime: more cash, with no questions asked.

The city’s Crime Stoppers program, which rewards anonymous tips that lead to an arrest, features a sliding reward scale based on the severity of the crime.

A typical gun crime, such as illegal possession of a firearm, might dole out $1,000.

Lynn Rolf III owns a lot of guns, but only one makes him stop and think whenever he sees it.

“I’ve had conversations with one of my pistols numerous times about how easy it would be to put it in the mouth,” he said. “Pretty one-sided.”

For the second straight legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly didn't pass any pro-gun legislation, while one bill backed by anti-gun groups saw a sliver of success.

Does that mean legislators’ stance on guns is shifting? It depends on whom you ask.

The family of a woman who died in custody at the Jackson County Detention Center in 2017 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming workers ignored the woman's pleas for help and falsified her medical records.

ReGina Thurman died "a horrible and preventable death" about 14 hours after arriving at the jail on Jan. 20, 2017, according to the lawsuit filed in Jackson County Circuit Court by Thurman's family earlier this month. The Kansas City Star first reported the lawsuit on Monday. 

Negligence and lax government oversight led to a fatal explosion at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, according to a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit filed this month by the family of the worker killed in the blast.

Lawrence Bass Jr., 55, was killed, and four other workers were injured, when an explosive material called tetrazene exploded on April 11, 2017.

Two years after an explosion at a crucial Army factory that is the country’s largest producer of small-caliber ammunition, the underlying cause of Lawrence Bass Jr.’s death remains unclear.

Bass, a longtime employee, followed explosives-handling procedures later deemed to be poorly written. He worked for a defense contractor anxious to slash costs on a government contract it had underbid.

The families of several people who were killed or wounded in a 2016 mass shooting near Wichita, Kansas, have reached a multimillion-dollar settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the pawn store that sold some of the guns used in the attack.

The lawsuit alleged that local retailer A Pawn Shop sold the guns to a woman as part of a straw purchase, which is when one person buys a gun on behalf of someone else, circumventing background checks and federal law.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the appeal of a Kansas death row inmate who claims the state unconstitutionally abolished his right to use insanity as a defense for his crimes.

Nobody disputes that James Kahler murdered four family members in 2009. But Kahler's attorneys argued at trial and in subsequent appeals that he had spiraled into a mental health crisis in the months preceding the murders and was psychotic during the attack. The murders took place in Burlingame, about 30 miles south of Topeka.

After a year in which 93 percent of its homicides involved guns, Kansas City, Missouri, continues to rank among the most violent cities in the country,

So it's an issue of key concern in this spring's mayoral primary race.  At a forum last week, nine of the city's 11 mayoral candidates took the opportunity to share their perspectives and solutions.

A proposal to build an Islamic community center in Overland Park received preliminary approval Monday despite apparent opposition from hundreds of Overland Park residents.

As Missouri moves toward implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana program, state officials on Wednesday warned potential patients to hold off on paying for a physician certification until June.

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