The local daily newspaper used an apt headline, “The Guns of August,” this weekend to describe the alarming military situation in the country of Georgia. To some students of history, the violence in South Ossetia recalls the unrest prior to World War I.
The same title, though, might also be used to describe a cause of the dangerous situation in some neighborhoods in St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the East Side. The real guns of August in the St. Louis region are the too easily available ones that flood the streets, giving every late summer disagreement, domestic dispute, and police stop the potential to lead to violence and tragedy.
Before some people fire off their reflexive emails citing the US Constitution, the Missouri Constitution, the English Declaration of Rights, or the later writings of Charlton Heston, I am not calling here for restrictions on the rights of law-abiding St. Louisans to purchase, possess, or carry guns. While I do wish that people who own guns took more care to keep them secure and had better grasps of gun safety, my dismay is over the ease with which criminals can acquire guns. It just seems to defy common sense to argue that the most effective remedy against gun violence is more guns.
In the past, I have joined mayors of most other major US cities in arguing that giving local law enforcement more tools to identify the provenance of the guns used in crimes and to tie ejected shells to the gun that fired them are reasonable accommodations to address a very dangerous situation.
I repeat my call.