FOUNTAIN PARK – There it was for everybody – good guys, bad guys – to see and be enticed to buy a gun.
It was an ad for a St. Charles gun show planted in the grass between a sidewalk and street in north St. Louis, which is a major contributor to the ranks of areas with the highest rates of gun violence in the nation.
The gun show ad is placed on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive near Euclid Avenue, just west of the southwest corner. It’s in the Fountain Park neighborhood, where three people have been killed by gun violence this year.
Militia Armaments Gun Club hosts semi-annual gun shows at Olympia Athletic Center in St. Charles. There were gun shows Oct. 4-6 and Nov. 22-24.
According to Militia Armaments’ website, there is a huge selection of guns and related items such as ammunition, rifles, handguns, shotguns, magazines, grips, scopes, knives and military surplus gear.
The website goes on to say that at the gun show, “You’re sure to find everything you need to build your new AR-15 or your next concealed carry pistol.”
Earlier this year, St. Louis police union rep Jeff Roorda called for all officers to be armed with AR-15s, telling News Channel 4 that “arming all officers with AR-15s would help them match what they are seeing on the street.”
Advertising a gun show in the city where Roorda said police were “getting out-gunned” is just is a bad idea to some north St. Louis residents.
“It’s awful, we don’t need a gun show,” said Joletta George, who lives about five blocks away from the sign promoting the gun show. “That’s the last thing we need. There’s already too many guns on the streets.”
“The guns always end up falling in the wrong hands, and a lot of times those are the people who don’t have anything to lose,” said George.
George said she understood that there were law-abiding city residents who used guns as a means of self-defense; but, like her, she said, they usually just go to a local gun store.
One city dweller called the ads insensitive target marketing.
“It’s a like a slap in the face, and it promotes to kids that’s it’s okay to have a gun,” said Ella Hughes. “And what about those parents who lost children to gun violence and ride by and see that sign?”
The gun show ad sits eight blocks from where 10-year-old Eddie Hill IV was shot to death on his front porch.
Eddie was just one of 11 children age 17 and under who have been killed by guns this year in the city of St. Louis.
According to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, a total of 187 people have been killed in the city so far this year. That’s already one more than the tally last year. Of those killed this year, 138 were black and 30 were female. Only 58 of those cases have been closed.
North city alone has recorded 115 homicides.
Just two years ago, Mayor Lyda Krewson’s administration announced a gun buyback program in the city. Hundreds of weapons were turned in. On Twitter, the SLMPD that year posted preliminary gun-collection numbers at: 303 handguns, 533 long guns; and six assault weapons.
George summed up: “There are more than enough guns in the city of St. Louis. We don’t need any more.”