We commend Gov. Mike Parson for signing a bill that will increase penalties for gun crimes, second-degree murder and gang crimes.
The bill has been described as a "wish list" for police, who are struggling with surges in violent crime in Missouri's bigger cities. Even here in Mid-Missouri, violent crime — especially shootings — now seems almost commonplace compared to a generation ago.
The law also will create the crime of vehicle hijacking, which now can be prosecuted as robbery.
Some have argued locking people up won't make Missouri safer. We argue this is one tool among many that will help with violent crime in our state.
"This legislation is a large step towards safety and justice for our communities," Parson said. "However, there is a lot more to be done. These tools are just the beginning of the work that needs to be done to fight violent criminals."
The new law will take effect Aug. 28.
Some have complained that the bill contains unnecessary sentencing minimums and is too tough on crime. But it had support from various Missouri mayors and other organizations, including the Missouri Police Chiefs Association and the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
In a joint letter, those two organizations, along with several others, wrote: "The good, hardworking, law-abiding citizens living in those cities and across Missouri deserve to know that violent criminals will not merely receive a slap on the wrist when they prey on their victims."
We're glad to see the Missouri Legislature and the governor take this important step to reduce violent crime. We're also glad Parson acknowledges much more needs to be done.
During next year's legislative session, we hope they consider common-sense gun laws, including closing a loophole that bypasses background checks.