Missouri has long experienced a gun violence crisis. It has the 6th-highest rate of gun violence in the country, with 1,222 people killed and 2,584 others wounded by guns in an average year in Missouri. Last week, in just 28 hours, twelve people were shot in St. Louis and St. Louis County between Monday and Tuesday, six fatally, including one teenager. Over the weekend, there was an unintentional shooting in which a 4-year-old was shot and wounded by her 5-year-old sister. See more about St. Louis gun violence here.
Gun violence has not just impacted St. Louis and other big cities, but rural Missouri as well. This weekend, four people were shot, one fatally, at a convenience store in Oregon County.
The pandemic exacerbated gun violence and led to 2020 being one of the deadliest recorded years for gun violence. This record-breaking year was driven in part by the epidemic in St. Louis, which recorded its worst homicide rate in decades. Shootings have remained high in the first months of 2021, as shown by the striking number of shootings just this week.
As St. Louis’ gun violence crisis worsens, lawmakers have moved two bills that would weaken gun laws, making it easier for people to take guns into sensitive places and harder for law enforcement to enforce public safety laws: HB 86 which would allow people to carry hidden, loaded guns in schools, bars and other sensitive places; and HB 85/310, which nullify federal public safety laws in Missouri as well as prohibit state and local law enforcement officers from assisting in the enforcement of those laws.
Missouri has some of the weakest gun laws in the country, including no laws requiring a background check on all gun sales or to prohibit domestic abusers from accessing guns, enabling this public health crisis. The pandemic has also exacerbated the root causes of gun violence in Missouri and across the country. Lack of access to opportunity is a key driver of gun violence and decades of policy decisions and underinvestment in Black and Latino communities have created areas of concentrated disadvantage, where public health crises — including both COVID and gun violence — thrive.
In St. Louis, volunteers with Moms Demand Action are advocating alongside local partners for increased funding for community-based intervention programs, like Cure Violence — which recently expanded their site in St. Louis.
In addition to increasing dedicated state funding for gun violence prevention and services for survivors of gun violence, state agencies should utilize federal Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) victim assistance funding to support local organizations serving survivors of gun violence and their communities.
More information on gun violence in Missouri is available here.