New effort underway to use courts to curb gun crime in St. Louis - KMOV.com

New effort underway to use courts to curb gun crime in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

A local U.S. Attorney is working in tandem with state prosecutors to refer more gun cases to federal courts.

"Under current law the Missouri state statute mirrors the federal statue,” said U.S. Attorney, Richard Callahan.

That statue says it's unlawful for someone with a prior felony criminal conviction to possess a gun, but last year the Missouri legislature through the vote of the people amended the state constitution to create more gun rights.

"It indicated that felons could possess guns unless they are violent felons and there is no definition of what a violent felon is and so a lot of those state cases are going to be thrown out,” he said.

Callahan added that the amendment ended up giving more protection to felons in possession of guns which is why his office is now working to move more cases to the federal court.

"The U.S. attorney is willing to pick up more cases and take them to federal court because they see the problem that the city is facing I don't think the circuit court is there yet,” said St. Louis City Police Chief Sam Dotson.

Dotson added that he's in support of the new initiative.

He and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay have been in support of creating a gun docket to help curb the major gun violence in the city. It has yet to become reality.

"I think when we see elevated levels of violence we have to continue to push the judges to be more accountable to people they serve in the community and to get outcomes that keep us safe,” Dotson said.

That amended statue is now in litigation and will go to the Missouri Supreme Court for a final decision.

Callahan's office will continue to prosecute gun cases pending that decision.

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