ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- The debate over gun laws is heating up in the wake of the weekend shooting death of former SLU volleyball player Megan Boken.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay on Tuesday wrote on his Facebook page that he was frustrated that St. Louis was awash in guns and that gun violence was up despite an overall drop in crime.
At a press conference Monday he said, “We have far too many guns that are too easy to get a hold of, in the hands of the wrong people.”
But the president of the St. Louis Board of Alderman, Lewis Reed, hit Slay with a blistering string of criticisms today on Twitter. The first said, “please stop blaming fed. gun laws for the crime problems in our city. Take responsibility & show leadership please!”
Reed, who accused the mayor of being silent on the problem of gun violence until there was a high profile crime in the central corridor, said Slay hasn’t done enough to address the underlying causes of crime.
Mayor Slay was out of town Tuesday, but chief of staff Jeff Rainford ran down a long list of initiatives by the mayor he said both tackles crime and conditions that contribute to crime.
Rainford pointed out the police department budget has gone up nearly 50 percent since Slay took office and said the mayor directed his director of public safety and the police department to come up with a major initiative to combat gun crime. That program should begin soon.
Rainford went on to list new charter schools, recreation centers, neighborhood organizing efforts and mentoring program for kids as ways to improve the quality of life for residents as a way to combat crime.
Reed said the increase in gun crimes is proof Slay’s efforts have failed, but Rainford pointed out that overall crime is down 14 percent from last year.