May 11, 2023 Less than a minute read

Missouri legislators take action to address state’s rising crime rate

After years of dramatically growing statewide crime rates, the Missouri General Assembly passed Senate Bill 189, legislation with several provisions to address the multi-faceted and complex issue of rising crime. The bill was passed on a vote of 30-4 and now goes to Gov. Mike Parson. Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville) was the bill sponsor, and Rep. Lane Roberts (R-Joplin) was its handler.

“We are encouraged by lawmakers’ action on the growing problem of public safety and look forward to the day when Missouri’s crime rate no longer hinders our state’s economic growth,” said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Missouri ranked sixth highest in America in violent crimes in 2020. Only Alaska, New Mexico, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana ranked higher. In property crimes, Missouri had the ninth highest rate per capita in 2020. With a rate of 23.9 deaths per 100,000 people, Missouri has the fourth highest rate of gun deaths in the United States.

“This is not just a problem in our cities. Crime is rising throughout the state, and it is impacting nearly every Missourian,” Mehan said. “These statistics are negatively impacting our businesses and our economy, but most destructive is the impact on people’s lives.”

Key provisions of the bill include:

  • Increasing sentencing standards for repeat violent offenders;
  • Establishing minimum prison terms for armed criminal action;
  • Enacting Blair’s Law to increase penalties for reckless celebratory gunfire; and
  • Easing the process to have a criminal record expunged.

Many of the provisions in Senate Bill 189 are recommendations from a report issued by the Missouri Chamber called Safer Missouri, Stronger Missouri. The report emphasized that crime is a statewide problem for Missouri and that statewide policy must accompany local action.

Other proposed legislation, including House Bill 301, placed increasing pressure on St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. Gardner, who faced mounting criticism over a failure to prosecute cases, announced she will step down from her role June 1.

More than 500 businesses and individuals signed the Missouri Chamber petition urging lawmakers to act on public safety measures this legislative session.


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