Missouri Republicans lash out at St. Louis mayor on proposed gun laws

(The Center Square) – Democratic St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones expected a backlash from the Republican-controlled legislature and executive branch after she announced a plan to prohibit “military-grade weapons” on city streets.

The wave started with Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who sent Jones an email before the close of business on Tuesday, and continued on Wednesday with Republican candidates for governor.

“I encourage you to go after criminals, not guns,” Bailey wrote.

Jones announced the city’s Board of Aldermen would introduce legislation after a listening session on gun violence at a church on the city’s north side. In addition to banning AR-15 and AK-47 rifles, the legislation will prohibit the sale or transfer of guns to minors, take action on ghost guns and other untraceable firearms and prohibit insurrectionists and those convicted of hate crimes from possessing guns.

She also said the legislation would prepare the city for passage of Blair’s Law, which was part of a large crime bill vetoed by Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson in June. Blair’s Law enacts criminal negligence penalties for unlawfully discharging a firearm within or into the limits of a municipality.

“We come together around a shared vision: a safer, stronger St. Louis that’s ready to stand up for our values,” Jones told reporters after the meeting and in a news release. “We know Missourians are demanding state-level action to pass measures like red-flag laws and background checks, but we are ready to try every tool available to us at the local level to protect families from gun violence.”

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, a Republican who grew up in St. Louis and a candidate for governor, criticized Jones’ approach.

“This is a threat to the constitutional rights of Missourians — plain and simple,” Kehoe posted on his campaign’s social media site. “The criminals plaguing St. Louis with gun violence aren’t getting AR-15s from stores. (Jones’) proposed legislation will not reduce crime; it will only prevent law-abiding citizens from their right to bear arms and protect their families.”

Republican gubernatorial candidates Jay Ashcroft, the secretary of state, reposted an attempt by Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, to rally the state against Jones on social media.

“Let’s all just say NO to gun grabbing by St. Louis City liberals,” Eigel posted. “Let’s Go Missouri.”

Jones highlighted Board Bill 29, which prohibits open carrying or displaying of any firearm capable of lethal use within the city limits, with an exception for those with concealed carry permits. The law was passed in July.

In May, 11 teens were shot and one killed in June as dozens of people illegally entered an office building for a social gathering. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department posted on social media a photograph of teens with various types of firearms who were wanted for questioning in connection with the incident.

In addition to emphasizing Jones’ laws won’t hold up to constitutional scrutiny, Bailey quoted a previous statement from Jones stating strict gun laws don’t deter gun violence.

“Moreover, you have repeatedly blamed juveniles who open carry firearms as the major contributing factor of crime in your city, yet you have done nothing to use the statutes on the books to address those issues,” Bailey wrote.

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