STL Public Safety Committee takes up bill on open carry
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - “We have to do something!” It was a statement among many emotional pleas 8th Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer made to her fellow St. Louis Alderman on Thursday.
“I have seen people carrying semi-automatic weapons in my neighborhood. I’ve seen them in front of my house,” said Spencer. “My one child has seen them unloaded in the streets in front of our house in broad daylight.”
It was the first time members of the Public Safety Committee got to hear and give comment on Spencer’s recent ordinance proposal, board bill 29. The bill aims to tackle the proliferation of guns in the city by requiring anyone who openly carries a gun in the city to have a permit or endorsement.
For example, the ordinance would not affect someone who owns it or is concealing it in a pocket or backpack.
“Where do we begin to say enough? I don’t care if you’re black, brown, white, yellow; I don’t care. This is something that should not be happening,” said 11th Ward Alderwoman Laura Keys, sharing her support for the bill.
Yet other members of the committee were skeptical about the initial proposal, including 7th Ward Alderwoman Alisha Sonnier. She raised concerns over the legality of the legislation.
“We became a constitutional carry state in 2017,” said Sonnier. “To my understanding, we would not be able to do anything under open carry or concealed carry.”
Spencer says in speaking with the city attorney, she feels confident this bill does not go against state laws so long as it is not infringing upon the rights of people to still own a gun without a permit. However, she plans to take out an existing part of the ordinance dealing with the confiscation of weapons if someone is found in violation of carrying openly without a permit. Instead, officers would temporarily remove the gun and safeguard it and have the opportunity to get it at a later time.
“We can either let the state make it illegal [to open carry], in which case it’s a criminal offense that would go on your record,” said Spencer. “If we take this path that the state has carved out for us here locally, this is a way for us to remove a gun from the street without impacting someone’s ability to have a career, go and get a job, or do other things meaningful, impactful things in their lives.”
Other concerns raised by city leaders include whether this ordinance will disproportionally target communities of color, and if it would put officers in even more danger approaching those who are openly carrying a weapon.
“It brings more chaos on the streets in the city of St. Louis than trying to calm them,” said 14th Ward Alderman Rasheen Aldridge.
News 4 asked Mayor Tishaura Jones for comment on this proposed ordinance. She declined our request saying that her legal team is still reviewing the bill.
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