By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
A state senator who represents St. Joseph has pre-filed legislation seeking to crack down on violent crime, an issue which has captured the attention of the legislature and the governor’s office.
Senator Tony Luetkemeyer of Parkville says the growing problem of violent, often gun-related, crime in St. Louis and Kansas City as well as Springfield, Columbia, and St. Joseph is a statewide issue.
“These pieces of legislation that I filed are aimed at deterring violent offenders from committing those offenses in the first place and to make sure those people who commit those offenses are locked up and handled appropriately as opposed to being granted probation and being put back on the streets where, most likely, we know they are going to reoffend at some point,” Luetkemeyer tells St. Joseph Post.
One proposal would prevent probation from being given to many repeat offenders. It also would deny probation for those convicted of the most dangerous felonies, such as murder or rape. Luetkemeyer says Missouri law allows probation to most felons, including those sentenced for second-degree murder.
Another measure sponsored by Luetkemeyer would make armed criminal action a more serious charge. Armed criminal action in Missouri is a companion charge in felony cases in which a weapon is used. Judges often allow the sentence for armed criminal action to run at the same time as the sentence for the primary felony conviction.
“What my bill does, when you have an armed criminal action charge, you must run that sentence consecutive with the underlying felony charge,” Luetkemeyer says. “So, this means longer prison sentences for people who are using guns to commit violent actions.”
Gov. Mike Parson has made reducing violent crime a priority. He has attended meetings with local officials in both St. Louis and Kansas City. Parson issued an executive order earlier this year directing the Missouri State Highway Patrol to allocate more troopers and resources to fighting crime in the St. Louis area.
Some leading Democrats in St. Louis are pushing for tougher gun control measures.
Luetkemeyer of Parkville says such measures miss the point.
“If we want to get tough on violent offenders who use guns to commit crimes, the message should be we’re going to more severely punish armed offenders who commit violent crimes, not punishing people who are law-abiding gun owners,” according to Luetkemeyer. “And I think that’s the solution, that’s the reason that I decided to target the armed criminal action statute.”
The 2020 legislative session begins at the Capitol in Jefferson City January 8th.