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Springfield city councilman calls for gun control in wake of Texas shooting

Springfield News-Leader logo Springfield News-Leader 6/2/2022 Andrew Sullender, Springfield News-Leader
a group of people sitting at a table: Springfield City Councilman Craig Hosmer speaks during a council meeting on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. © Nathan Papes/Springfield News-Leader Springfield City Councilman Craig Hosmer speaks during a council meeting on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.

In the wake of last week's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, one Springfield councilmember implored his colleagues to take action to curb rising gun violence in their city — though he admitted there was little the city do given the state's tight limit on gun control.

"We need to ask our legislature to restore common sense, responsible gun ownership —to go ahead and protect people in this community because for us to believe it's not going to happen here, we are sadly mistaken," said Springfield councilman Craig Hosmer at their Tuesday night meeting.

Hosmer noted some of the largest mass shootings in the country's history were committed by teenagers, including Parkland, Sante Fe, Sandy Hook, Columbine and the recent Texas shooting that left 19 children dead.

"We need to look at whether an 18-year-old should be able to buy a weapon," he said — suggesting the minimum age to buy a firearm should be 21. 

Can cities enact their own gun laws in Missouri?

But according to state statute, no municipality or county in the state can adopt "any order, ordinance or regulation concerning in any way the sale, purchase, purchase delay, transfer, ownership, use, keeping, possession, bearing, transportation, licensing, permit, registration."

The only exception to the statute is the allowance of municipalities to ban permitless open carry within their borders. But should an individual have a open carry state permit, they can carry their firearm openly even in a municipality that bans it. Springfield does not have such a ban on open carry.

More: Billy Long declines to commit support for specific gun control measures in wake of Uvalde

A former state legislator, Hosmer noted these restrictions but said city council could encourage the state legislature to take action.

"We've had 250 mass shootings in this country this year," he said. "And to believe that we're immune to it here in Springfield is a mistake."

Though not endorsing or denying such a proposal, Mayor Ken McClure said Springfield "stands as one" with Uvalde in the "unspeakable grief that community is experiencing."

City Manager Jason Gage also suggested council could meet with Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams to discuss how SPD and SPS are prepared for a mass shooting event such as what happened in Texas.

Gun violence increases in Springfield

In the midst of the national discussion on mass shootings and gun control, gun violence in Springfield has increased this year.

According to Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams' monthly report to city council, the number of aggravated assaults in the first four months of 2022 has increased by 20 percent since last year.

"Almost all of that increase is related to gun violence. The increase in shots fired calls, the increasing number of folks that we're having been shot, including the two homicides that we had just this last weekend, are related to gun violence," Williams said at a council meeting last month.

More: Driven by shootings, Springfield's violent crime rate is up in 2022

So far, SPD has confiscated 92 illegal firearms this year, compared to 150 confiscated firearms in all of last year.

Later in the meeting this week, local volunteers from "Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety" asked for council to take action and to proclaim June 3 National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

"I know we are all still heartbroken to think one week ago 19 children and two teachers were killed in their classroom and that 15 other people were injured. And just barely a week before that, 10 people were killed while doing grocery shopping in Buffalo, New York," said activist Denise Stewart. "But National Gun Violence Awareness Day and wearing orange this Friday provides the opportunity to show that we honor and remember the lives and victims of gun violence.

The local Mom's Demand chapter is holding a neighborhood cleanup of Grant Beach Park on June 10 as part of their gun violence awareness efforts.

Mayor McClure agreed to issue a proclamation honoring National Gun Violence Awareness Day on Friday.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Springfield city councilman calls for gun control in wake of Texas shooting


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