St. Louis boasted the highest murder rate in the United States in 2015, and the city is on pace to break its own record in 2017.
The city is reeling after its 203rd murder–a triple homicide–last weekend. In 1995, the city marked 204 murders, but that was when the city boasted a population with 50,000 more people.
In response to the rising number of murders, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, flanked by Public Safety Director Edwards and Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced that strong measures would be taken to combat the violence. The plan is in action today as police are collecting guns in exchange for cash rewards. Guns with 10-round or more capacity magazines are worth $200. Shot guns and rifles earn the returner $150, and hand guns net $100.
Never mind that an AR weapon typically retails for more than $1,000. Shotguns typically retail for more than $300, and hand guns typically retail for more than $300, public officials are certain citizens will take a loss on their home defense investments in the vain hope that fewer guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens will result in less crime.
“I’m trying to reach good people that are willing to turn in guns that are perhaps in their homes unlawfully, good people like neighbors that have seen children walking the street with guns,” Edwards told the St. Louis Dispatch.
City leaders said violence can’t be reduced through prosecutions and arrests alone.
“Maybe not, but in my mind that’s a good place to start, making arrests, prosecutions, and jailing the bad guys for long prison terms,” says Elliott Davis, an investigative reporter for St, Louis’ Fox 2 News. The popular anchor has taken to his Facebook page asking that city leaders address the elephant in the room.
“We’ve got to get to the bottom of the black on black crime that’s responsible for most of the killings,” Davis writes. “Officials are just dancing around this deadly issue.”
He cites statistics that of the city’s first 199 murders in 2017, 186 of the victims were black and 134 of the suspects were black. He was attacked on social media for speaking out about the murders in the city.
“They were pissed because I wasn’t railing about the police-involved shootings,” he wrote. “I was looking at the numbers…Until we get a grip on reality, the battle against violent crime is doomed to fail.”
Research suggests that gun buyback programs are among the least effective ways to reduce gun violence. For starters, the people who turn in guns are often the least likely to commit crimes.
That’s not stopping city leaders from a quest to remove old hunting rifles and revolvers from the attics of the law abiding. The gun buyback continues through 3 p.m. today at the Omega Center in St. Louis.
“Meanwhile the problem is getting worse and more people are dying because people don’t want to face facts,” Davis writes. “They’d rather buy in to the political spin job. If we don’t face facts and see the situation for what it is and what the real problem is nothing will change except for innocent men women and children dying the streets.”