(ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo.) — People with domestic violence convictions and orders of protection against them will soon be banned from carrying concealed guns in St. Louis County, Missouri, according to a vote this week from the county council that was sharply split along party and gender lines.
The four women on the council who are all Democrats, voted yes at Tuesday’s meeting, while the three men on the council, who are all Republicans, voted no.
Councilman Tim Fitch said at the meeting that the bill would “take a federal felony charge and make it an ordinance violation,” or essentially a “ticket.”
“While it may look good on a campaign brochure,” Fitch said, “it’s going the opposite direction.”
In response to Fitch, Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway conceded that passing this bill would make an ordinance that wouldn’t have the same penalties as a federal crime.
But Dunaway stressed, “the problem is, these particular federal crimes do not get prosecuted,” because federal prosecutors are “too busy with much bigger issues.”
“If we can hand this law over to the county government, it’s more likely to be prosecuted,” Dunaway said.
“We’d like to do a whole lot more to protect people from gun violence,” Dunaway said. “Even though this doesn’t go far enough, I think it’s the first step in the right direction.”
Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray argued that the ordinance furthers the federal law because “it sends a message to our prosecutors.”
But Councilman Ernie Trakas said he believes the bill “encroaches” on the 2nd Amendment, telling the council at Tuesday’s meeting, “this bill overreaches, is not well thought out, and I believe it violates state law.”
Councilman Mark Harder voted no, and at the meeting called the bill “flawed.”
“If we’re going to tackle domestic violence in St Louis County — and we should — this does not go near far enough to act as a deterrent to domestic violence,” Harder said.
Councilwoman Lisa Clancy, chair of the county council, introduced the bill.
“Like probably a lot of other states, Missouri’s got some pretty tight restrictions” on how local government regulates guns, Clancy told ABC News on Thursday. She calls this bill the best steps to address gun violence and domestic violence at the local level.
“I wish the bill could go further, but it can’t at this time until we change some state laws,” she said.
Clancy said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is expected to sign the law in the next few weeks.
She said it was co-sponsored by the other women on the county council and that the process included involvement from the county executive and domestic violence advocates.
Clancy said Kansas City’s city council has already passed a similar bill and lawmakers with the city of St. Louis are working though a similar bill of their own.
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