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St. Louis’ Newly Bill Requiring Reporting of Those Who Fail a Gun Background Check

November 6, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on St. Louis’ Newly Bill Requiring Reporting of Those Who Fail a Gun Background Check
Grand Theft Auto’s gun store Ammu-Nation

I thought the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll would at least get the usual number of responses, but it got way less.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis’ new background check bill (#106) is a waste of time & money.

Strongly agree: 2 [15.38%]

  • Agree: 2 [15.38%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [7.69%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [15.38%]
  • Disagree: 4 [30.77%]
  • Strongly disagree: 1 [7.69%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [7.69%]

The few gun retailers in the city will need to report to the St. Louis Police when an applicant has failed a firearm background check.

”A waste of time & money” was the most frequent criticism I read last week. Given how few gun stores exist in the city and only about 1% fail a gun background check, I don’t see this is a big issue.

”Criminals don’t buy guns” is another I heard. For this I turned to Politifact:

[U.S. Rep] Faso said “The vast majority of crime that is gun related is committed by people who illegally are possessing that firearm.”

People can differ on what constitutes a “vast majority.” What’s more, illegal gun crime is not well researched in the U.S. The latest data is more than a decade old. One analysis of the data showed Faso’s claim is not true in some states while true in others. But experts say most gun crime is likely committed by those who illegally possess guns.

His statement is accurate but needed additional information. We rate it Mostly True.

So this likely won’t reduce crime in St. Louis. However, since 1982, 74% Of mass shooters obtained their guns legally. So there’s potential the St. Louis Police may get the name of someone who failed a background check — if they could’ve bought a legal gun they might’ve committed a mass shooting.

The fact is we’re not going to ever know the effectiveness of this new bill. However, we do know that few who lie on their application are prosecuted — even though that’s a crime.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: St. Louis’ New Gun Background Check Bill Good or Bad Legislation?

November 3, 2019 Crime, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: St. Louis’ New Gun Background Check Bill Good or Bad Legislation?
Please vote below

Friday the St. Louis Board of Aldermen sent a bill to Mayor Krewson, who’s expected to sign it.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed a bill that requires licensed gun dealers to tell police if someone trying to purchase a gun fails a federal background check.

Bill 106 is a public safety legislation for failed background checks for firearm purchases. According to the Board of Aldermen, the City of St. Louis has become the first city in the U.S. to pass such a law.

The bill, sponsored by President Lewis Reed, will establish reporting requirements for licensed firearm dealers. The legislation requires the dealer to report when a firearm purchase is denied from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. The new law will prohibit people who attempt to buy guns and fail the background check from creating a serious public safety threat. (KSDK)

Board Bill 106, introduced on September 13th, can be found here.

To come up with today’s poll question I read lots of comments on  articles about this posted on news site Facebook pages. Yes, the poll question isn’t the same as the headline.

As always, this poll will close at 8pm tonight. My thoughts, still unclear to me at this point, and the results Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

 

We’ve Got To Be Smart On Crime, Not Hard Or Soft

September 25, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on We’ve Got To Be Smart On Crime, Not Hard Or Soft

The phrase “soft on crime” has a long history of being used to encourage the public to support the “lock them up and throw away the key” view of criminal justice…more accurately injustice.

The 1990s panic over youth and gang violence had us characterizing juvenile offenders as “superpredators” who were beyond redemption. The popular slogan “adult time for adult crime” echoed a “get-tough” approach for punishing kids. Recently, however, the U.S. Supreme Court abolished mandatory life sentences for minors. And policy makers have recommitted to the original philosophy of juvenile justice, prioritizing the needs of young offenders rather than what punishment is deserved.

The 1990s also saw the rapid spread of a penal policy patterned after a well-known baseball refrain — “three strikes and you’re out.” This metaphorical approach to sentencing felons helped nearly bankrupt many states, especially California where “three strikes” was most enthusiastically adopted.

Thousands upon thousands of Americans were taken prisoner in the “War on Drugs” declared in the early 1970s when crime rates soared. Having surrendered this misguided campaign, the nation is now looking more toward treatment for addicts than punishment, and releasing nonviolent drug offenders from prison. (USA Today)

Fearing being labeled as “soft on crime” conservative Democrats, aka neoliberals, fully embraced tough on crime policies. This allowed them to work with Republicans to pass bipartisan legislation.

Cover of ‘Time’ magazine, February 7, 1994

This led to innocent men, mostly African-Americans, being incarcerated. Mass incarceration is now a major problem. Families were torn apart. Persons who served their time returned home to find they couldn’t get a job or housing. Recidivism was inevitable.

We screwed up…for decades.

St. Louis is a Democratic city, but mostly of old school neoliberal conservative Democrats. So the fact a majority of respondents to the non-scientific Sunday Poll think think our first black prosecutors has led to a sudden spike in violent crime shouldn’t surprise me.

Q: Agree or disagree: Violent crime is increasing in St. Louis City & County because our new prosecutors are soft on crime.

  • Strongly agree: 14 [48.28%]
  • Agree: 4 [13.79%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [6.9%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 5 [17.24%]
  • Strongly disagree: 4 [13.79%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Long-standing policies, not new prosecutors, are responsible for our violence. Smart solutions don’t look like the old, but now problematic, one. St. Louisans must learn to embrace change if we’re ever going to make progress in addressing our problems.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Are We Too Soft On Crime?

September 22, 2019 Crime, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Are We Too Soft On Crime?
Please vote below

Last week Missouri Governor Mike Parsons was back in St. Louis, announcing the state’s new commitment to help reduce violence in the St. Louis region.

Starting Oct. 1, 25 Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers will be deployed in a variety of roles throughout the city.

Six of them, along with a cyber analyst, will be assigned to various task forces that focus on violent and gun crimes. Two investigators will join a federal-state partnership in which assistant attorneys general are deputized as federal prosecutors.

Other troopers will be deployed along the four interstates in what the governor is calling “surges.”

“We will work closely with [St. Louis] Chief John Hayden to determine the best operational periods for us to work in the city, but we’re going to keep that very diverse and look for these opportunities,” said Col. Eric Olsen, the commander of the highway patrol. (St  louis Public Radio)

Today’s Sunday Poll question is about violent crime in our region.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts on the causes & solutions to violence in our region, along with the results of this non-scientific poll.

— Steve Patterson

 

Effectiveness Of Police Body Cameras Can Vary

August 28, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Effectiveness Of Police Body Cameras Can Vary
The St. Louis Police “Incident Command Center” truck in 2012

St. Louis City & County are both looking to get police body cameras. This is a good thing, especially based on experience in other cities.

A quick online search reveals how body camera footage has been helpful, here are a few:

The above makes a very convincing argument in favor of cameras. Looking to Chicago, however, tells me effectiveness is closely related to how they’re implemented within each department.

Since the program’s inception, the department has issued 8,200 body cameras to officers through city funding and grants. The U.S. Department of Justice has also awarded the department more than $2 million in grants to assist with the implementation of the program. The goal is to improve transparency, accountability, and safety between police and the public.

But a compliance evaluation by the City of Chicago Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found watch operations lieutenants failed to complete required reviews of body camera footage, and the department does not have a standardized process to do so. [CBS Chicago]

We know off cameras aren’t effective.  An overwhelming majority of us believe these cameras are worth the cost — from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Police body cameras are a huge waste of money.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [2.7%]
  • Agree: 2 [5.41%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [2.7%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [2.7%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [5.41%]
  • Disagree: 8 [21.62%]
  • Strongly disagree: 21 [56.76%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [2.7%]

I plan to keep looking into pitfalls other regions have encountered as they added body cameras. I’m also concerned about costs — annual leasing versus buying upfront. How much money could we save over the next couple of decades depending upon how we purchase? The other question I have is how long before we’d need to upgrade to new technology?

— Steve Patterson

 

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