The mayors of Missouri’s four largest cities sat down with Missouri Governor Mike Parsons on Friday to discuss ways to reduce violent crime and drug overdoses in the state, and while there were no specifics announced, the mayors of St. Louis and Kansas City urged the governor to support gun control measures in hopes they will stem the rising tide of gang violence.
“We’re trying to find solutions to a situation in our state that none of us are very proud of, when we start talking about the violent crime situation in the state of Missouri,” Gov. Parson told reporters.
He added, “The main thing that I think comes out of today — we know we’ve got to do something, we know we cannot continue going the way we are and expect any different results. So I think we’re all more than willing to look outside the box, per se, to figure out how we fight violent crime in this state.”
“I truly believe we’ll get results out of this,” Parson said.
The thing is, you really don’t have to look outside the box to reduce violent crime. We know what works; enforcement and outreach. Better enforcement of the existing laws, eliminating plea bargains for the most violent offenders, and offering a chance for individuals to break free of the gangs before they end up in prison themselves is a proven strategy that works to make communities safer. Meanwhile, officials in St. Louis are trying to declare parks to be daycare centers so they can ban guns in the city-owned green spaces. That’s thinking outside the box, but it’s not likely to save any lives.
The governor was asked if there had been any discussion about new gun control laws, and Parsons admitted it had come up.
“You’ll hear discussion of this in the legislative process,” he said, emphasizing that any efforts would be founded on “what we can do.”
“Look, I think there’s always going to be the argument of the Second Amendment,” Gov. Parson said, noting that it might be possible to look at ways of keeping weapons out of the hands of violent offenders.
Again, the best way to keep guns out of the hands of violent offenders is to ensure that there will be consequences for those violent offenders if they’re caught with a gun. Efforts that focus on legal gun owners instead of violent criminals are going to miss the mark, even if gun control activists and anti-gun mayors swear that’s what’s needed.
Missouri isn’t just dealing with gang-related violent crime. They’re also experiencing a surge in drug overdoses, including a spike this week in the southwest Missouri city of Springfield.
Fire and emergency medical personnel first spotted the alarming 24-hour trend, Pennington said.
Prior to this recent spike, 42 overdose deaths had been reported to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department this year.
“We need people to know we are in the middle of an epidemic,” said Dr. Jake Spain, according to the press release. He is the Mercy emergency medicine physician and Springfield Fire Department’s medical director.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 952 overdose deaths in Missouri in 2017, compared to 599 homicides. Both homicides and drug overdose deaths have been increasing in recent years in the state, unfortunately. Governor Parsons spoke about expanding mental health treatment and addiction services in the state, but again, the mayors and the governor were short on specific plans to address the overdose epidemic.
What, if any, legislation emerges from the governor’s meeting with the mayors remains to be seen, and any gun control bills are likely to face stiff opposition in the GOP-controlled legislature, but the fact that the governor says he’s open to “out of the box” ideas means gun owners in the state should be keeping a close eye on filings at the state house in advance of the legislature’s return in early January.