ST. LOUIS – Calling gun violence in St. Louis a public health crisis, US Representative Lacy Clay announced Friday that he’s filed a federal bill to allow local governments to pass stricter gun laws than current state laws.
The congressman chose to unveil his bill at Children’s Hospital, a place where 40 kids have already been rushed this year after being hit by gunfire. Clay said St. Louis City clearly needs different laws than towns in mid-Missouri.
“This is about common-sense solutions to a problem that I would think most Americans would want us to address,” Clay said.
The bill—HR 3435—would require states that receive public safety funding to allow local governments to pass their own gun laws, even tougher ones than the state.
“We need this in the city of St. Louis,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said. “Our state legislature does not know better what we need than folks at the local level.”
Homicides in St. Louis are up compared to the same time as last year. Local leaders have said we’re in a crisis mode. It’s a tipping point and something needs to be done.
St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said it’s become personal for him.
“Over 97 percent of the gun violence in the city of St. Louis is born by African-American boys and men,” he said.
Edwards said that stat includes both shooters and victims.
Rep. Clay said he’s been working on this bill for six months and that he has 20 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. However, he knows it won’t be easy getting this bill passed.
“This is just the start of the effort. It takes quite an effort to get a bill passed,” he said. “We're starting it and will not give up.”