St. Louis Gun Violence Is a 'State of Emergency,' Senator Nasheed Says


State Senator Jamilah Nasheed say St. Louis' gun violence is a public health crisis. - VOTENASHEED.COM
  • State Senator Jamilah Nasheed say St. Louis' gun violence is a public health crisis.
After another deadly day in St. Louis, state Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) asked Governor Mike Parson to declare a State of Emergency in response to the city's gun violence.

"The gun violence epidemic in the City of St. Louis is a public health crisis and must be treated as such," Nasheed, who is running for president of the city's Board of Aldermen, tells Parson in a letter sent Tuesday.

The declaration would allow the governor to apply a wide range of resources to the problem, but treating gun violence as a public health problem has been controversial.

In 1997, Congress blocked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from doing anything that would promote gun control, even as scientists say the kind of research the CDC could fund would save lives.

Missouri's law allows governors to declare emergencies for any "natural or man-made disaster of major proportions has actually occurred within this state, and that the safety and welfare of the inhabitants of this state require an invocation of the provisions of this section."

Typically, that tends to be something like a flood, but past governors have sometimes used the power broadly. Former Governor Jay Nixon controversially declared a state of emergency in 2014 and implemented a curfew during the protests that followed Michael Brown's death at the hands of Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson.

Nasheed argues in her letter to Parson that the violence in St. Louis has reached crisis levels. As an example, she details a string of bloody shooting incidents from Monday: A 66-year-old Laclede Cab driver killed in north city, a three-car crash on Interstate 70 caused by gunfire and a 37-year-old killed outside a Domino's Pizza in Columbus Square, north of Downtown.

There have been fewer homicides than at this time last year — 77 versus 88 as of Monday morning — but that's not saying a lot considering the 205 killings in 2017 was St. Louis' worst year in more than two decades.

"If we can spend billions of dollars to fight the Taliban half a world away, surely we can put a fraction of those dollars to work here at home combatting drug dealers and gangs on the streets of St. Louis," Nasheed said in a written statement. "That's why I'm asking [Parson] to declare a State of Emergency so that local law enforcement and agencies have the resources needed to end the gun violence epidemic in St. Louis."

The Riverfront Times has reached out to a Parson spokeswoman. We'll update the story if we hear back.

Update - 2:23 p.m.  Parson's spokeswoman tells us the governor was travelling yesterday and hasn't yet reviewed Nasheed's letter. She noted the governor has met with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson since taking office and says "one of his main priorities is to reduce crime rates all across Missouri."

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