CLAYTON — On the same day that a St. Louis alderman introduced legislation that would bar domestic abusers from carrying concealed weapons in the city, the St. Louis County executive called for a similar measure in the county.
Alderman Christine Ingrassia introduced the city’s bill at the Board of Aldermen on Friday, saying it would make it easier for city police to take guns away from people convicted in the past of committing domestic violence or who are subjects of abuse-related restraining orders. She said the measure mirrors a federal law that isn’t often prosecuted here in federal courts.
In a letter to the County Council on Friday, County Executive Sam Page asked the council to introduce similar legislation. “By doing so, it will aid in preventing the proliferation of guns into the hands of people who threaten the safety of others, especially women and children,” he said in a statement.
Page said the measure was “common sense.” Lisa Clancy, D-5th District, the council chairwoman, tweeted that the council should “get this done.”
The measure is the latest in a series of efforts to get around a state law that generally allows people to carry concealed firearms without permits and training.
Missouri state law generally bars local governments from passing gun laws stronger than weak restrictions in effect statewide. But Page wrote that County Counselor Beth Orwick “assured me that state law permits St. Louis County to regulate guns in this manner.”
That’s because state law allows local governments to prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons that would be barred by federal law.
Page said federal law makes possession of a firearm unlawful for any person “who is subject to a court order that … includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety” of an “intimate partner or child of such … person” and “has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic abuse.”
The City Council in Kansas City in November passed a similar municipal measure.
County Councilman Tim Fitch, R-3rd District, questioned the need for a county ordinance when a federal law applies, suggesting it was an election year public relations move that “won’t change a thing.”
“These are people who are violating federal law,” Fitch said. “Would you rather have them prosecuted by the U.S. attorney, or the county counselor’s office? … I’m not in favor of domestic abusers carrying firearms, I just don’t see it’s necessary to have a county ordinance to do the same thing that a federal law already does.”
But St. Louis-area defense attorney Rick Sindel said local ordinances could give authorities more opportunities to take action, noting that a federal case “depends on whether the federal prosecutor wants to prosecute a violation of that law.”