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Black Caucus wants special session to address gun violence

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Legislative Black Caucus wants to add an issue to the special session agenda: allowing municipalities to address high incidents of gun violence. 

Following the death of an 8-year-old girl in St. Louis, the group  — consisting of 18 Democrats and one Republican — sent a letter to Gov. Mike Parson calling gun violence a “pressing crisis.”

“One size statewide laws do not always serve the best interests of all the residents of our state. Local elected public officials, policing agencies, and our residents must deal with the catastrophic impact of gun violence. We need the freedom to address local solutions,” the letter stated.

“We ask you and our rural colleagues to recognize that the slaughter of children in our state, and the hundreds of other victims of gun violence, demand immediate solutions that will produce results for our communities.”

The Black Caucus called it a topic worthy of public debate and due consideration by the General Assembly. At the time of the letter, 12 children had been fatally shot just this year. 

Last week, Parson called a special session to solely tackle a June decision from the Missouri Supreme Court which determined state statute allows the sale proceeds of only one vehicle to be credited against the purchase price of a new vehicle in computing sales tax. 

Democrats blasted the topic for which Parson justified bringing lawmakers back to the Capitol; critics suggested a bevy of other issues they would like to see addressed in a special session instead. 

Many pointed to the large amount of children who have been dropped from state health insurance recently as a more pressing issue. House Minority Leader Crystal Quade also suggested Parson could have used a special session to tackle gun violence.

“Missouri’s irresponsible and weak gun laws have contributed to a sharp spike in gun violence and recently enabled a heavily armed man to cause a panic at a Springfield Wal-Mart, yet Governor Parson does nothing,” she said. “There are several issues that demand immediate legislative attention and would justify the cost of a special session. Creating another unnecessary tax break for a handful of people isn’t one of them.”

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat who has launched a 2020 gubernatorial bid, requested the legislature take up recommendations made earlier this year by a school safety task force. Particularly, Galloway urged Parson to fund and ensure every school has an armed officer.

The special session will begin Sept. 9, running concurrently with veto session — meaning lawmakers will already be back in Jefferson City.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.