(The Center Square) – The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced a coordinated plan to address crime after 79% of state business leaders surveyed said it should be engaged in addressing the problem. More than 70% said crime was impacting the state’s economic competitiveness.
“I think businesses here have known this continues to be a problem,” Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson said during a press conference on Tuesday in St. Louis, where 87% said the Chamber should address crime and 80% cited crime as a problem. “We have to be able to figure this out and fix it.”
The Chamber published a 32-page report, “Safer Missouri, Stronger Missouri,” with survey results and several crime statistics. Missouri’s violent crime rate increased 8.6% between 2019 and 2020, compared to the national rate of 4.6%. Missouri ranked fourth in gun deaths, sixth in violent crimes per capita and ninth in property crimes per person.
The Chamber recommended an aggressive and collaborative approach by state and local policymakers. It provided eight recommendations, but none specifically mentioned gun laws.
The report stated the Second Amendment Preservation Act, signed into law by Gov. Parson last year, “is causing concern among law enforcement officials and prosecutors.” There’s litigation challenging the act as some interpret the law as prohibiting state law enforcement officers from working with federal agencies on weapons-related cases.
“We’re going to be a protector of the Second Amendment, but we want to make sure we take guns out of violent people’s hands, people who shouldn’t have guns in their hands to start with,” Parson said.
The report recommended the state consider “a solution that continues to protect Second Amendment rights, as prioritized by Missouri’s elected leaders, while ensuring its law enforcement officials have all tools available to tackle violent crime.”
“The bottom line is we need to get guns off the street,” said Sen. Brian Williams, D-St. Louis, after speaking at the press conference. “We’ve seen what’s happened all over the country. A lot of it has to do with not putting laws in place to prevent the wrong people from getting guns.”
The report also contains successful initiatives implemented by several states in areas related to the recommendations.
Daniel Mehan, president and chief executive officer of the Missouri Chamber, said the state continues to improve in job growth and per capita income.
“As we turn our attention to public safety, we need to have the same amount of success as in those areas,” Mehan said. “Public safety is holding us back. But we need to get behind this and make sure we’re doing it right.”