Amid a pandemic that has exacerbated the root causes of gun violence and created unprecedented challenges for community-based violence prevention groups, several cities across the country experienced spikes in gun violence over the Fourth of July weekend. In St. Louis, 25 people were shot —seven fatally — including five children. After 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro was shot and killed last week, Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas called on Missouri Governor Mike Parson to call a special session to address violent crime, including gun violence.
Throughout the legislative session and the last special session, Missouri lawmakers refused to take up common-sense gun safety legislation, instead prioritizing dangerous gun bills to arm more teachers, punish local law enforcement for acting on gun violence, and allow more guns in K-12 schools and daycare centers.
Parson announced he was open to another special session, but he has yet to set a date. Meanwhile, on Monday, Parson signed SB 600 into law, which will increase minimum sentencing requirements for certain crimes. Research has consistently found that mandatory minimums do not have an impact on violent crime or crime overall. These measures may disproportionately impact Black and brown communities in Missouri.
Instead, the governor should be focused on evidence-based solutions to gun violence. Missouri should invest $4 million of unspent VOCA funds to support gun violence survivors and eligible violence intervention programs like Cure Violence St. Louis and Kansas City Mothers in Charge that work to address gun violence and save lives in Missouri. These programs serve survivors and individuals who are at the highest risk of shooting or being shot to stabilize communities and reduce future violence.
Around the country, there have been growing concerns that new strains on state and city resources could affect funding for life-saving gun violence interventions. In a win for violence interrupters in St. Louis, city leaders recommitted funds to Cure Violence for the 2020-2021 fiscal budget. This funding will allow the city to establish three fully operational Cure Violence sites in the coming year.
Over 1100 Missourians are shot and killed every year, giving Missouri the fifth highest rate of gun deaths in the United States. The rate of gun deaths in Missouri increased 56 percent in the last decade, compared to an 18 percent increase nationwide.
More information about violence intervention and prevention funding available here. Statistics about gun violence in Missouri are available here, and information on how Missouri’s gun laws compare to other states overall is available here.
If you have any questions, or would like to speak with volunteers with Missouri Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.