CITY HALL – Some St. Louis officials say a newly passed law could tip off police about potential perpetrators of gun violence before they act.
The Board of Aldermen passed on Friday a bill requiring licensed firearm dealers in the city to report the failure of a background check to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Afterwards, Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and other aldermen said the action provided a new tool to fight gun violence.
Reed thanked the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense for its part in pushing for the legislation, which is the first of its kind in the country.
“It will make a difference and help to address the issues of gun violence in our city and cities across our country in what we call common sense gun laws,” Reed said. “I commend you all, Moms Demand Action, and hope that you can get this done in other cities across the country.”
Cathy Gilbert of Moms Demand Action saluted the Board of Aldermen for approving the measure.
“It’s an additional tool that we can give law enforcement to help keep our city safe,” Gilbert said. This will help keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them, she said.
Reed acknowledged that legislation such as this on its own couldn’t address all of the problem of gun violence. But it will be one piece of legislation that will help police get on top of the problem.
“We now have information about people,” Reed said. “They’re attempting to get a gun or should not own a gun or even be applying to get a gun. We will now have that information, and it will help us to fill in some of the missing pieces in some of the open investigations that the police department has.”
Once a person fails a background check, the information will go to local law enforcement, Reed said.
One kind of case where the legislation would be particularly helpful would be domestic violence cases, Reed said.
Reed mentioned one instance in which a man got out of jail and killed his wife.
There are 20 licensed gun dealers in St. Louis, Reed said.
People reached at two of those dealers had differing opinions about the legislation.
“I have no problem with that at all,” said Ronnie Light, owner of Sam Light Loan & Mercantile Co., 2601 Olive St. He said he had to turn the information over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, so why not give it to local law enforcement?
Antonio Anthony, a manager at A.C. Pawn Shop, 2850 Chippewa St., said that it was no big deal and that his company would do what it had to do to stay in business.
However, it could wind up hurting the innocent, Anthony said.
Anthony said he’d seen the federal government reject prospective gun buyers by mistake. Anthony himself has been rejected and since then has bought many guns.
“You’ve got a normal person getting detained by the police because of a clerical error,” Anthony said.