ST. LOUIS – State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, is optimistic that rural Missouri Republican legislators will agree next week to form an interim special Senate committee to study gun violence in the St. Louis area. The violence has claimed the lives of 18 children ages 16 and under in St. Louis and the surrounding low-income suburbs since April.
Nasheed has approached state Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, a Republican from Sullivan, in Franklin County, about establishing such a committee. Schatz has agreed to ask his fellow members of the GOP Senate supermajority about it as soon as the Legislature re-convenes for a special session Sept. 9.
“It’s important that this interim committee be formed,” Nasheed said. “We need them to come to St. Louis and hear from the mothers who’ve lost their children,” Nasheed said. “Listen to the doctors. Listen to the psychologists. We have experts who know how to reduce gun violence. That’s why we need this interim committee.”
Appearing on “The Jaco Report,” Nasheed said most of her rural, white, Republican colleagues had no idea of the depth of the gun violence crisis in St. Louis.
“A lot of times they just don’t know. They cannot empathize. They shoot deer while people in the city of St. Louis are shooting human beings,” she said. “This is an epidemic. But this is not about infringing on anyone’s Second Amendment rights. This is about formulating common sense gun laws to reduce gun violence as much as possible.”
Schatz, unlike the majority of his GOP colleagues, has first-hand experience with devastating gun violence. In March 1992, Schatz’s father, then-Franklin County commissioner Neil Schatz, killed five family members — his wife, a son, a daughter, and two of his grandsons, ages 3 and 8 — with a shotgun before killing himself.
Having lost both parents, a brother, a sister and two nephews to gun violence, Sen. Schatz has the kind of personal connection to gun killings that most of his colleagues lack. But no one knows if that will push him to pressure fellow Republicans to set up an interim gun violence committee.
Nasheed doesn’t know, either. What she does know is that any committee will have to look at underlying issues that have led to the rise in St. Louis gun violence.
“We have to look at the gun violence. But we have to look at the systemic problems that got us here in the first place,” she said. “Bad education. Mass incarceration. We have to remove the policy barriers.”
Nasheed also took a shot at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for failing to solve most of the gun murders that take place in the city.
“The individuals who are supposed to serve and protect our community have become numb to the death of poor black people,” she said. “I don’t believe they care about solving these murders. I’m not talking about all of the police. But some of them.”
When asked whether she thought police were dragging their feet on gun deaths among blacks, Nasheed replied, “Unless they’re incompetent and don’t know how to solve murders. It’s one or the other.”