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St. Louis lawmaker proposing more gun control inside city limits to curb crime

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV.com) - A new battle over guns and crime is brewing in the Missouri General Assembly.

A local state senator is proposing a change to Missouri's open carry law that was enacted in 2017. Now, police in our area and across the state say the law is making it hard to fight crime, families of gun violence want to see the law change, while gun lobbyists don't want to weaken gun laws for those who abide by them. 

One local St. Louisan who's been through the threat of gun violence is Sharon Webb-Steele. On March 26, 2000, Webb-Steele lost her daughter Cara Davenport to gun violence. 

"She got ready to leave and they started shooting and somebody used her as a human shield and blew her head off. Her murder's still unsolved to this day," Webb-Steele explained. 

Webb-Steele has spent the last two decades searching for answers and making sure this doesn't happen to another St. Louis family. 

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't cry," Webb-Steele said. 

Webb-Steele said having stricter gun laws in the City of St. Louis that makes it harder for people to get guns in the first place could be beneficial. That's why State Senator Steven Roberts is proposing Senate Bill 1016. 

"It would create a conceal carry permit requirement if you want to conceal or open carry a firearm in public. If you want to keep a firearm in your house, personal safety, I understand," Roberts said. 

Right now, Roberts said if someone is walking down the street carrying a firearm, police cannot ask that person for registration, a permit, or use it as probable cause to further search or arrest that person. This law was put into place in 2017 and is called 'Constitutional Carry'. It's a law Roberts said he wants to move away from. 

"It's also an important way for law enforcement to distinguish lawful between unlawful gun owners," Roberts said. 

If passed, the bill would then allow police to ask for gun permits or licenses. However, firearm advocates said even if the bill targets St. Louis City, they believe Constitutional Carry is still the right option. 

"The issue here in St. Louis and other blue cities is that we have a political agenda being driven by department heads and that's what this is," Aaron Dorr said. 

Dorr is with the Missouri Firearms Coalition. He said taking away Second Amendment rights is not the way to address crime. 

"The real problem is we have all these prosecutors, like Kim Gardner, who refuse to go after the actual violent criminals," Dorr said. 

It's something Senator Roberts said needs to start at the ground level with police officers actually being able to arrest people. 

"Local police departments that have been using that [Constitutional Carry] are no longer functioning because of that law change," Roberts said. 

SB1016 would only apply to St. Louis City gun owners. The bill is waiting to be heard by a committee. 

Copyright 2022 KMOV. All rights reserved.

 

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