We're pleased to see a focus on gun violence in advance of Missouri's 2020 legislative session.
On Monday, Gov. Mike Parson, along with city leaders and police chiefs in the state, announced their three-pronged plan to fight gun violence that includes keeping firearms from minors, domestic abusers and violent offenders.
We welcome these possible solutions, and we encourage our local, county and state leaders to seek more.
The Associated Press reported St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield all have experienced spikes in gun crimes and homicides in recent years. Police say 176 people have been killed this year in St. Louis alone, including more than a dozen children. Police have reported at least 134 homicides in Kansas City, the AP reported.
In the article, Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said part of the problem is, despite a federal ban on minors having handguns, local law enforcement shies away from referring minors to federal prosecutors. Adopting a similar ban in Missouri, he said, would give law enforcement more tools.
Treece also said violence offenders sometimes are allowed to keep their guns when they agree to lesser charges in plea bargains. Prosecutors, he said, should be able to require those offenders to turn in their guns under such plea agreements.
Ensuring minors, domestic abusers and violent offenders don't have access to guns is "common sense" and "doable," Parson said.
Last week, Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, along with Republican lawmakers, said they would seek stronger carjacking laws and remove the requirement St. Louis police officers live in the city. That, they said, could improve officer recruitment/retention.
Unfortunately, Jefferson City hasn't been immune to gun violence. As we write this, we're just reporting about someone being shot inside the Cole County Jail.
What other possible solutions are out there?
We would love to see our local law enforcement community — as well as our readers — weigh in on the causes and possible solutions to this increasing problem. Would other state laws be helpful? Lawmakers are poised to deal with the issue, so now is our time to be heard.