Although lawmakers are coming back to Jefferson City this week to address a vehicle sales tax issue during a special session, legislators are focused on a myriad of issues in the interim — from healthcare to gun violence.
At least 13 children have been killed this summer as a result of escalating gun violence in the St. Louis area. Appearing on “This Week in Missouri Politics” Sunday, state Rep. Tracy McCreery suggested the possibility of regulating gun access through the use of police — something that, according to the St. Louis Democrat, the law enforcement in the city has been asking for.
“When [police] pull over somebody, and they see all these guns in the car, they can’t take the guns away from these guys even though they know they are going to be used in a crime or used illegally,” McCreery said. “So we need to give law enforcement the tools to get guns away from people that should not have guns in the first place.”
GOP Rep. Michael O’Donnell, however, compared what is happening in St. Louis to his service in Iraq. He argued nothing worked in Iraq until “the locals got engaged.” He said it couldn’t be just the St. Louis police working to fix the issue but a community-wide effort.
The issue has thrust St. Louis into the national spotlight. The city, according to a recent police data report, has had 143 gun-related homicides this year, and that number is expected to grow. The issue has driven multiple Democratic lawmakers to demand immediate legislative focus, rather than the focus of the vehicle sales issue in the special session.
But Republican consultant Brett Dinkins said the vehicle sales tax issue affected many Missourians, too. According to him, 3,000 people are impacted by the issue.
“That’s 10 times more people than the hometown I grew up in,” Dinkins said. “That’s six times more than my entire school, so this is actually a lot of people. Assuming they’re married and have some kids, this is impacting a lot of local economies.”
Jen Bersdale, executive director of Missouri Health Care For All, countered the number of Missourians impacted by the vehicle issue pales in comparison to those who need Medicaid.
“Three-thousand people … is a lot of people; 200,000 Missourians who need healthcare is a lot more,” Bersdale said. “There are kids that have been shot over the last few weeks whose families can’t afford to get them the health care they need to recover.”