Amidst rising gang violence in St. Louis, Missouri Governor Mike Parsons announced he’s sending more than two dozen state troopers to the city to work alongside multiple law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and local level in an attempt to crack down on the wave of homicides and violent assaults.
“We know we have a serious problem with violent crime that must be addressed, and we have spent the past months meeting with leaders and organizations at all levels to discuss possible solutions,” Parson said in a statement Thursday. “This is about targeting violent criminals and getting them off our streets. If we are to change violent criminal acts across our state, we must work together, we must do our jobs, we must support our law enforcement officers to accomplish these goals, and we must start prioritizing the prevention of crime.”
Note what Parsons didn’t say. He didn’t say that in order to change violent criminal acts, legal gun owners are just going to have to sacrifice their rights. He didn’t call for a gun ban, or rationing gun purchases, or allowing the government to decide who gets a license to own a firearm or not. He called for “targeting violent criminals and getting them off our streets.” The focus is squarely on the perpetrators of violent crime, instead of targeting lawful gun owners in the hopes that there’ll be some sort of trickle-down effect on street gangs.
According to the governor, the 25 state employees being sent to St. Louis have a very specific mission.
The Republican governor said he’s sending a trooper “surge” to patrol four major Missouri highways, including I-70, to help arrest violent criminals using the interstates. This move, he said, will free up local officers to focus on known “high-crime” areas.
“Law enforcement has the greatest impact on taking violent criminals off the highways when we work collaboratively at all levels of government throughout the criminal justice system,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Colonel Eric Olson said in a statement. “The Patrol is committed to this plan and working with our partners and citizens to help make the region safer.”
It’s going to take a lot to clean up some of St. Louis’s most dangerous neighborhoods, but it can be done, and if the city can harness the various law enforcement agencies and their task forces to focus like a laser on the most violent offenders in the city’s most violent gangs, the city could start to see some real results soon.
Across the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Illinois, however, it’s another story. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker hasn’t announced any plans to send additional resources to the troubled city, which currently has the nation’s highest homicide rate at 111 per 100,000 people, compared to a national average around 5 per 100,000. In Illinois, the governor is focused on things like targeting Illinois gun stores and fingerprinting legal gun owners rather than cracking down on East St. Louis’s gangs.
Even the death of Illinois State Trooper Nick Hopkins, who was serving a search warrant when he was shot, hasn’t prompted Pritzker to change his tactics. He’s still seemingly convinced that the key to reducing violence in Illinois cities like Chicago, Joliet, and East St. Louis lies in making it a dangerous proposition to try to legally exercise your 2nd Amendment rights.
There’s no guarantee that Governor Parsons plan will bring down the violence in St. Louis, but there’s no chance that Governor Pritzker’s anti-gun agenda will make the streets of East St. Louis any safer. As long as he’s more interested in going after gun owners instead of gang members, the good people in some very bad neighborhoods are going to continue to try and live with murderers in their midst.