A pair of armed robbers in St. Louis, Missouri picked the wrong target on Wednesday night, attempting to rob a man at gunpoint who had a gun of his own.

Police were called out to the Carondelet neighborhood on the city’s south side just before 11:00 p.m. on reports of a shooting. When they arrived on scene, they found one man who had been fatally shot in the head, and a short time later took another individual into custody about two miles away with a gunshot wound to the leg. After investigating, authorities determined that the pair had tried to rob a 31-year old man at gunpoint, when the intended victim drew his own firearm and shot in self-defense.

The investigation into the attempted robbery is still ongoing, and not many details have been released yet. What we do know is that violent crime in St. Louis has been trending in the wrong direction, with 46 homicides reported in the city as of April 24th, compared to 38 homicides during the same time period in 2019.

Mayor Lyda Krewson has pressured Gov. Brad Parsons to get behind several proposed changes to Missouri state law that she and other local officials believe will reduce the ability of prohibited persons to acquire firearms. Back in November, she and other Missouri mayors met with the governor, who agreed to push for new legislation.

One measure is to ensure minors do not have access to handguns. Currently, it is a federal felony for anyone under 18 to possess a handgun, but Missouri has no such law. This makes it difficult for prosecutors when charging young offenders.

“For obvious reasons, prosecutors don’t want to refer juveniles to the federal system, and I don’t think any of us want kids to be in that federal judiciary system,” said Columbia Mayor Brian Treece after the meeting at the state Capitol. “So having a state companion law that closes that loophole between the nonexistent law in state government and the federal felony law, I think, could give law enforcement the tools they need.”

Another goal is keeping firearms out of the hands of violent offenders and domestic abusers. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said these are not radical changes and can make a real difference.

“We think that these steps are reasonable ones,” he said. “We’ll be pushing to make sure they’ll be in effect both in our localities, but also statewide.”

Treece noted many of the offenders who were arrested surrounding the recent spike in violence across the state had previous felony charges that were reduced to misdemeanors. This allowed them to continue carrying handguns. With a stricter state law, prosecutors can use the right to carry as leverage in a misdemeanor plea bargain.

Parson said he is prepared to ask the Republican-dominated state Legislature to get on board with the stiffer regulations. While he said the long-term goal is still about education and workforce development, these are solutions that can help right now.

“We don’t need to keep talking about it. What is it we can really put into effect?” Parson said. “We can name 10 different things, but the reality of it is, if you can do seven of the 10, what are we doing wasting our time talking about it?”

While lawmakers talk about what laws they’d like to make, criminals are still doing their thing on the streets of St. Louis. It’s also important to note that some Democrat lawmakers who represent St. Louis are opposed to simple things like removing residency requirements for police officers, which has received bi-partisan support in a bid to help fill the roughly 140 vacant positions in the city’s police department.

“There is no stat that says more police equals less crime,” said Rep. Wiley Price, D-St. Louis.

“I don’t think that changing residency is going to change the problems,” added Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City.
St. Louis politics are pretty dysfunctional, but thankfully the state’s gun laws are pretty good, ensuring that even if violent crime continues to plague the city, residents can at least defend themselves on the street and in their homes.