Representative Stacey Newman (D) sent an open letter to Governor-Elect Eric Greitens (r):
December 11, 2016
Dear Gov-Elect Greitens,
I sincerely regret that your wife experienced a frightening robbery at gunpoint in St. Louis City last week not far from your home. It is not an experience that anyone should face and I’m relieved that she and the other nearby robbery victim were not physically harmed.
As you are well aware, robbery or carjacking attempts which involve a firearm, often result in tragic consequences. Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, a gun violence survivor, knows this well. Years ago her husband was shot and killed in a carjacking in front of their Central West End home with their two young children in the back seat and she miraculously escaped harm.
I urge you to talk with St. Louis City Police Chief Sam Dotson and check out his website, http://www.slmpd.org for weekly statistics on city crime, particularly those involving firearms. You will notice homicides and robberies are at a pace rivaling those of major city populations throughout the country. Talk with the nearby Clayton police chief who will tell you that stolen guns are the number one crime issue in his major suburban business center, as well as the city of St. Louis. The easy availability of firearms in a metropolitan area is a dire issue to those who have the professional responsibility to keep populations safe and alive.
Chief Dotson, along with the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, county prosecutors, medical professionals and more urged your party in the legislature this past year to defeat SB656 — which abolished sheriff-issued permits in order to carry concealed weapons and included the “stand your ground” defense which has been shown to greatly increase gun deaths, particularly of African Americans. However, legislators ignored the pleas of those who deal with gun violence every day and night in our cities and overturned Governor Nixon’s veto.
Gun violence is not just robbery attempts or homicides in those “bad neighborhoods” many choose to avoid. It includes suicides, domestic violence incidents often killing an entire family and even little kids who have ready access to an adult’s gun and shoot themselves or someone else. In fact, Missouri was #1 in 2015 toddler shootings across the country — little ones barely able to walk who pulled the trigger of a gun. Check out http://childrensfirearmsafetyalliance.com which documents unintentional shootings of children by children every single day, many which have occurred in Missouri.
Last year Washington University in St. Louis, in your own backyard, became incensed at our alarming rate of gun violence and launched their ongoing Gun Violence Initiative, now parked at the university’s Institute for Public Health. Physicians, researchers and students study and work with community organizations, including regional hospitals, to find ways to lower injury and death rates due to gun violence. Leading national medical experts and scientists throughout the nation collaborate with those at Washington University and St. Louis University’s Schools of Medicine because as medical professionals, they are sick and tired of treating gun violence patients every single day, many they often cannot save.
St. Louis is not the only city in Missouri suffering from a gun violence epidemic. Kansas City is suffering as are smaller communities throughout the state. Mayor Sly James and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker have been working diligently with innovative Kansas City community programs to decrease gun crimes, working around the clock to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous citizens. They ask the legislature for help over and over but are ignored.
No zip code is immune from death and injury through careless use of firearms. I urge you to look at Missouri incidents catalogued just for 2016 at http://www.gunviolencearchive.org.
But as a current resident of the city of St. Louis, you must know much of this already. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of photos of grieving families in the media, particularly of those trying to make sense of burying innocent kids far too soon, kids who were simply doing homework in their living rooms or happened to find their parent’s gun laying on a nearby table.
Once inaugurated next month, you soon will have the power, ability and the responsibility to address gun violence. There are concrete solutions to lowering our death rates, simply by keeping firearms from those who should not have access to them. Over 80% of Missourians believe that every gun purchase should undergo a federal background check and that domestic abusers and those on the no-fly list should not be allowed to purchase firearms. Those are simple ideas that have widespread support which you can champion immediately once in office, with solid approval from law enforcement, prosecutors, medical professionals and many more.
You, as Missouri’s next governor, can be a hero (like you were as a Navy Seal) in standing up to corporate lobbies and be proactive in saving people’s lives, including children the same ages as your own.
Please don’t allow someone else to become a firearm fatality after your wife’s frightening robbery.
We desperately need a hero right now.
State Representative Stacey Newman, St. Louis, Missouri
Will Eric Greitens learn that we reap what we sow? (December 7, 2016)