“It’s no different than, you know, when I worked at Ace Hardware and somebody would come in and buy a kitchen knife,” Biedenstein said. “You can mess somebody up with anything.”
Remy Cross, a criminology professor at Webster University, said access to guns does not raise the amount of crime committed. However, using a gun allows the crime to be more deadly.
“What we like to talk about is the difference between getting in a bar fight when you just have your fist versus getting in a bar fight where there is a firearm present,” Cross said. “The chance you’re going to end up with a more serious crime is much higher.”
The solution to gun violence
Gifford’s Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranked Missouri seventh out of fifty states in most gun deaths per capita.
Scott said taking away guns from responsible gun owners will not stop gun violence. He said criminals can have a weapon regardless of the law.
“It’s not guns. It’s the bad people that get their hands on a gun and do bad things,” Scott said. “If a bad person is going to get his hands on a gun, he’s going to get his hands on a gun.”
Lavender said she believes limiting access to guns will limit the presence of gun violence in Missouri. She said having more guns only increases the amount of gun violence in the state.
“We took off the ban on assault weapons not quite 10 years ago. And ever since then, the number of gun violence with assault weapons has gone up,” Lavender said. “So how can you say that more guns make us safer when we are only having more violence as we have more guns?”
Lavender said she has legislation in Missouri sponsored by fellow Democrat Stacy Newman called the ‘Extreme Risk Protection Law.’ Essentially, the law gives the opportunity for concerned family members to appear in front of a judge and ask for a restraining period for a person. If the judge decides a person is a danger to themselves or others, they can take away that person’s guns for up to a year.
Cross, the Webster professor, said focusing on gun laws will not solve gun violence in St. Louis. He said the issue is much bigger than just gun access in the state.
Cross said while changing easy access gun laws is a start, no easy way exists to get rid of all violent crime in the city. He said issues like deficits in spending, poverty and racial tensions all play a part in violent crimes.
“There’s no simple solution, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to try for things that look like they might be moving the needle in a positive direction,” Cross said. “I think what it comes down to is whether people have the patience to work on these things or whether they’re going to throw up their hands.”
Read more stories about St. Louis and it’s efforts to curb gun violence and crime at the Gun Violence Project website.