3 min read
Posted on 06.16.16
  • 3 min read
  • Posted on 06.16.16

June 15, 2016

Dear Governor Nixon,

Like many cities across the United States, St. Louis has recently experienced a spike in violent crime. After seven years of decline, 2015 saw violent crime rates rise 18 percent. Every St. Louisan knows that this is not acceptable, and we have a lot of work to do.

That’s why my office recently finalized the Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement, and Re-entry, or PIER, Plan, which lays out our strategy to reduce violent crime in detail. This strategy includes investing in technologies and partnerships like the Real Time Crime Center and Mission SAVE that will allow police officers to work smarter and more efficiently. But it also recognizes that trust between the community and the police is one of the strongest determinants of violent crime – that’s why we’ve rolled out initiatives like the Civilian Oversight Board and the Neighborhood Ownership Model. None of the above, however, is enough ­– every one of the 72 homicides committed in the first five months of 2016 was an avoidable tragedy – 67 of these homicides were committed with a gun.

If signed into law, Senate Bill 656 would extend the right to carry a concealed weapon without a permit to all individuals not expressly prohibited by state or federal law from carrying a firearm. Furthermore, it would allow individuals to get lifetime and 25-year permits, effectively skirting the 5-year renewal process.

This reckless and irresponsible piece of legislation represents the triumph of political cowardice over common sense and will make it harder for police officers, prosecutors and judges to get criminals off our streets.

Lax gun laws contribute measurably to Missouri’s extremely high rate of gun homicides – 48 percent above the national average. In 2014, Missouri had 925 gun related homicides, more than two and a half every day. It’s tragic, and it’s frankly not acceptable when 85 percent of Missourians say they support mandatory background checks for all gun buyers.

The positive effects of common sense regulation are well documented; its profound impact isnotupfordebate. One example: In 2007, Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase law, which required background checks for all gun sales. According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, the homicide rate in the state increased by 25 percent in the following three-year period, all while the national homicide rate decreased by 10 percent.

Criminals in Missouri are armed to the teeth and resort to violence on a whim – they appear to have no regard for the sanctity of human life. They shoot at each other and miss, injuring and killing innocent bystanders.

By passing Senate Bill 656, the Missouri legislature is telling St. Louis that it wants criminals to be able to carry and conceal firearms without a permit and have permission to fire whenever they “feel” threatened.

This is insane, and the toll will be measured in human lives lost. We will not allow our city or our children to be caught in the crossfire of these pointless and petty criminal battles. We need your help, and I respectfully request that you veto Senate Bill 656.


Francis G. Slay

Mayor, City of St. Louis

Sam Dotson

Chief of Police