Religious, healthcare, business and community leaders join the City of St. Louis in filing an amicus brief in the Missouri Supreme Court. Amicus, meaning "friend" of the court, asks the Court to consider the widespread impact guns have throughout our community and to uphold the Felon in Possession law.
That law has been challenged in several cases, including one where a St. Louis Circuit Court judge ruled that Amendment 5 invalidated the Felon in Possession law as applied to some convicted felons. The State is appealing that ruling to the Supreme Court.
Together, the City, the Archdiocese, the Chamber, SSM Health, and the Demetrious Johnson Foundation contend the following:
- Gun violence has wide-ranging impacts throughout the community, resulting in needless deaths, fractured families, significant societal costs, and hindered economic development.
- The felon-in-possession law is an essential tool for reducing gun violence.
- The Circuit Court's decision threatens to take away one of law enforcement's few tools to reduce gun violence.
"All St. Louisans have a right to live in a community free of gun violence," Mayor Francis Slay said. "Law enforcement in the City of St. Louis struggles every day to use the few tools Missouri law provides to reduce gun violence and to keep guns out of the hands of those most likely to commit violent acts in the future. Their job is a tough one as they are forced to fight crime in an environment with too many guns, too few strong laws, and sometimes not enough support from other branches of government. It should be common sense that our communities are safer when weapons are kept out of the hands of convicted felons."
"Although the right to defend oneself and one’s family from harm is paramount, in the interest of the common good of the citizens of the City of St. Louis, I fully support efforts to prohibit felons from possessing firearms," Archbishop Carlson said.
"Our Chamber is a broad coalition of leaders committed to making St. Louis the best place to live, work, and invest," Joe Reagan, President and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, said. "Public safety is absolutely critical to our work to bring high-paying jobs and new capital investment throughout the region."
"SSM Health cares deeply about the health and well-being of those we serve," Michael Panicola, Ph.D, senior vice president of mission, legal and government affairs at SSM Health, said. "We believe that sensible gun regulations prohibiting felons from possessing firearms are essential to cultivating safe communities. At our 10 Missouri hospitals we have seen firsthand the devastation that gun violence has had on many families."
"Violence is too rampant in the African-American community and guns kill too many of our young folks," Demetrious Johnson said. "When you're talking about giving people who have already proven to be irresponsible an option to carry a deadly weapon, you're opening it up to be the Wild, Wild West. We should give convicted felons a second chance to succeed in life, but they don't need a gun to do it."
The amici ask the Court to uphold the constitutionality of the Felon in Possession law and allow law enforcement to continue trying to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
A copy of the amicus brief is below.