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St. Louis School Shooting Shows Weaknesses In Gun Laws

"This could have been much worse,” said St. Louis Police Chief Michael Sack said about last week's school shooting in his city that killed a teacher and a student. Had it not been for the heroic, unhesitating actions of police who shot and killed the gunman within minutes of arriving at the school, more people would have been killed and injured. Still, such incidents happen with tragic regularity, says the Washington Post in an editorial.

There have been at least 33 school shootings this year. Last year, there were 42 acts of gun violence on K-12 campuses during the school day, more than in any year since at least 1999, when a mass shooting occurred at Columbine High School. Since Columbine, at least 188 children, educators and other people have been killed and another 389 have been injured in assaults on schools. More than 320,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine.


The St. Louis school shooter was 19, a former student at the school, and he came armed with an AR-15-style rifle and 600 rounds of ammunition. How he obtained his weaponry could be a case study in the deficiency of gun laws. He legally purchased the gun from a private individual after his efforts to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer were blocked by an FBI background check, apparently because of mental health issues. Nine days before the shooting, police were called to the gunman’s home, and his family, worried about mental health issues, asked authorities to remove the gun. Police determined the gunman was lawfully permitted to have a firearm. A third person known to the family took the rifle so it would be out of the home. Missouri, notorious for weak gun laws, lacks a red-flag law that would have given the family legal recourse to confiscate the gun. The state doesn’t require background checks to buy or own guns, and anyone who is 19 or older can legally conceal or openly carry guns. Last year the state enacted a measure barring police officers from enforcing federal gun laws. The newspaper asks, "how many more school shootings need to happen before Missouri wakes up? How many more before Congress enacts a national assault weapons ban and requires universal background checks?"

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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