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Missouri lawmakers advance crime bill

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A committee advanced on Wednesday a bill aimed at curbing violent crime in Missouri to be debated in the state Senate.

Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, called lawmakers back to work this summer to pass the legislation, which he said was needed to address a surge in murders in the state’s biggest cities.

The measure would strengthen witness protection programs and allow St. Louis police to live outside the city, an attempt at recruiting more officers to the understaffed department.

The bill also would enact harsher penalties for people who sell guns to minors without their parents’ permission and would allow judges to decide whether a child between the ages of 12 and 18 should be tried as an adult in court for unlawful use of weapons and armed criminal action.

“When you talk about juveniles, you’re not talking about little minor juvenile violations,” Parson said Wednesday. “You’re talking about people involved in violent crimes.”

Missouri lawmakers passed just two years ago a measure that raised the age to be tried as an adult to 18 years old from 17.

Racial justice advocates and Black lawmakers have criticized Parson for prioritizing that legislation but not calling on the Legislature to work on police accountability measures.

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