I read Rep. Jim Murphy’s opinion piece Tuesday afternoon and my reaction was one of disbelief.
Jim and I are freshman colleagues in the house, friends and come from basically the same part of the St. Louis area. In terms of his sentiments expressed, we are coming from VERY different places.
In his opening sentence he says it is political folly for the Democratic representatives to want gun violence addressed in our upcoming special session. Gov. Parson has called a special session to consider making a change on sales tax collection when a citizen trades in more than one car. He is the governor of our state, I respect him and will be there for that special session. As a father, grandfather, state representative, and a human being I ALSO want to discuss any/all options that could help address gun violence. I am confident that Rep. Murphy’s own constituents many of whom I know, would agree that there is NO comparison as to the “special” or urgent nature of these two issues. Addressing gun violence is infinitely more important!
I take exception with his statement that the Democratic Party has run our cities into the ground. This is so ridiculous that refuting it would take more time than I have here….but I am up for the challenge later, but I will leave it at this thought. Our cities are not “run into the ground” and most of the historic, cultural, entertainment, and commercial activities that we enjoy are found in our cities.
Rep. Murphy states that the Democratic Party has “elected prosecutors that are so soft on crime they nullify existing law.” Really???? Last I checked our prosecutors were elected in fair elections that all registered voters were allowed to participate in. I did not know that only Democrats were allowed to vote!
I can assure Rep. Murphy’s Democratic colleague that the City of St. Louis Police are not stopping vehicles with bad tail lights and ignoring serious crime in the city. The vast majority of our officers are dedicated to serving our citizens. The vast majority of our citizens respect and support our officers. I agree with Rep. Murphy that our officers are underpaid and overworked. As we work to remedy that situation, we also work on restoring and increasing trust between our officers and the citizens they serve. Everyone has a part to play in that reconciliation.
Our problem with gun violence is not new. At times there is a serious spike as there has been this summer in St. Louis, at times it does go down a little. Year in/year out there is still way too much violence. There are no easy answers. That does not mean any of us has any excuse for not trying harder. So let’s address it in this special session!
We, as a legislature, did pass some meaningful criminal justice reforms this year. We also have to address our current conceal carry without a permit, expansion of background checks, red flag laws and limiting high capacity magazines. How about common sense laws that REQUIRE law abiding citizens to LOCK UP THEIR GUNS especially when they are left in cars, left unlocked criminals break in and steal the firearm.
As Rep. Murphy states, “I enthusiastically support any common sense crime prevention legislation in our next session.” I look forward to the same.
Steve Butz represents HD 81 in the Missouri House.