Sen. Eric Burlison’s Legislative Column for July 24, 2020

Governor Calls Extraordinary Legislative Session to Address Violent Crime

Last week, the governor called lawmakers back to Jefferson City for an extraordinary legislative session to address violent crime, beginning Monday, July 27.

During his announcement of the extra session, the governor cited increases in violent crime throughout the state, with Kansas City seeing a 35 percent increase in homicides this year as compared to last year. In St. Louis, there have been 130 homicides so far this year compared to 99 as this time last year. From May to June, St. Louis County saw a 19 percent increase in aggravated assaults with a firearm from last year according to the governor. However, I believe violent crime is not only a problem in our urban areas, but throughout the entire state.

The governor’s call for an extra legislative session will focus on six specific areas:

  • Eliminate the residency requirement for St. Louis City police officers, so long as the officer lives within an hour of the city;
  • Require courts to determine if a juvenile should be certified as an adult for the offense of unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action;
  • Allow certain witness statements to be admissible in court that would otherwise not be allowed;
  • Create a Pretrial Witness Protection Fund;
  • Modify the offense of endangering the welfare of a child to include a person who encourages a child to engage in any weapons offense; and
  • Increase the penalty for a person who knowingly sells or delivers a firearm to a child under the age of 18 without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian.

A few of these items were the subject of bills that were introduced this year, but due to the virus shortening our legislative session, these issues weren’t able to make it across the finish line.

In my opinion, violent crime has been an issue in our state for many years, and there are a number of factors I think we must consider when discussing ways to reduce this type of crime. Like many of you, I am tired of seeing reports on the evening news of senseless violence throughout our state. Enough is enough, and I believe now is the time to put commonsense solutions in place to help protect the citizens of our state.

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