Can Tighter Gun Control Reduce Crime in St. Louis?

With the number of mass shootings and gun-related homicides in the U.S. continuing to climb, gun ownership is being debated more than ever before. The shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, which left 11 people dead, is the latest episode that’s added fuel to the debate over the validity of the Second Amendment. In St. Louis, homicides may be down from last year, but a number of gun-related incidents have raised a significant amount of concern among local residents and law-enforcers alike.

Is there a real reason for worry?

On September 12 this year, a twelfth-grade student from Hazelwood Central High School in St. Louis was shot and injured while walking home. During the following 24 hours, six people were shot and killed in the city in five separate cases. Of the six who died, five were found in vehicles. Six gun-related homicides in such a short period of time are worrying by anyone’s standards, with the St. Louis Chief of Police, John Hayden, describing the shootings as “very alarming.” On October 2, the same day the city was observing National Night Out (an initiative aimed at making the community safer,) three men were shot and killed over a period of six hours. These and other shootings that have occurred in and around the city point to a need for improved gun safety or possibly more stringent gun ownership laws in the state.

Safe gun ownership is pivotal

Safe gun ownership is of paramount importance to the safety and wellbeing of both gun owners and the general public. Basic safety precautions, such as using the correct ammunition according to your weapon’s caliber guide and adhering to safe cleaning and storage protocol, can reduce the risk of accidental injury. A gun can be extremely beneficial when it comes to personal safety as well as securing your property. It is, however, important to always remember that a gun should only be used as a last resort and only when it is safe to do so. Responsible gun owners will ensure that they are properly trained in firearm handling and will never use a weapon in a careless manner that can compromise the safety of innocent bystanders.

Are current gun laws flawed?

As of January 2017, Missouri is a constitutional carry state, which means that no permit is required to openly carry or conceal a firearm. At present, purchasing a firearm from a legal dealer or store in Missouri requires the buyer to complete a form issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The buyer will also be subjected to an Instant Criminal Background Check. If a handgun, shotgun or rifle is acquired through a person-to-person sale, however, there is no law in place to enforce a background check. Under Federal Law, an individual has to be 21 years old to purchase a handgun and handgun-caliber ammo and 18 to purchase a shotgun or rifle (and the required ammunition). These laws essentially make it legal for a high school senior to buy and own a gun.

Who can’t own a gun in St. Louis?

There are a number of reasons why an individual will not be allowed to legally own a gun in the state of Missouri. Anyone who has been convicted by the court of any crime punishable by a jail term of longer than a year or anyone under indictment for a felony crime will not be able to purchase a gun legally. The same applies to illegal aliens, individuals who have been committed to any mental institution and those who were discharged from the U.S. armed forces under dishonorable conditions.

The politics surrounding the right to bear arms will undoubtedly remain highly polarizing. At the end of the day, common sense has to prevail, and each and every St Louis resident has to make the effort to ensure that weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands so that gun violence is reduced as much as possible.

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