JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Democratic Sens. Jamilah Nasheed and Kiki Curls held the Senate floor for nearly 20 minutes to address a “public health crisis” Wednesday: the excessive number of Missourians who have died from gun violence in recent months.
The senators represent St. Louis and Kansas City areas — districts that have been particularly rocked by gun violence. Nasheed, who led the movement on the floor, said 12 children have been fatally shot since April, four in a single weekend. In the Kansas City area, there have been 103 homicides this year, Curls said.
“I rise today to speak for those who have no voice of their own. They have been silenced by violence, silenced by crime, silenced by the deafening sound of gunfire in our streets,” Nasheed said. “Make no mistake: The gun violence epidemic in the state of Missouri, especially in the city of St. Louis, is a public health crisis.”
Nasheed has been calling on Senate leadership to form an interim committee to look into the rampant gun violence and suicides.
“Like any public health crisis, this epidemic has socioeconomic causes and impacts that must be taken into account and must be addressed through positive changes to public policy,” she said. “Changes we, the Missouri Senate, can and must make.”
“I certainly hope there can be some consideration in this body that can be given to those areas that happen to be struggling right now,” Curls said, adding she hopes lawmakers can “collect data” from law enforcement officials and other entities regarding gun violence, particularly since the legislature has passed laws laxing gun regulations in recent years.
Both Nasheed and Curls said they did not want to infringe on Missourians’ Second Amendment rights but wanted “common sense reform.”
Nasheed also pointed out the “economic impact of gun violence:” $98 million in health care costs plus $159 million in law enforcement and criminal justice expenses.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in March 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.