First, let's face the real unpleasant facts: we're here today because our city has seen 97 homicides this year...along with too many aggravated assaults which could easily have ended up as homicides.
This increase threatens 20 years of progress we've been making against murder in our community. Since 1993, we've fought to bring the annual number of homicides from 267 down to 120.
We can't afford to lose the ground we've gained. Too many people - including police, community leaders, parents, teachers, and clergy - have worked too hard, for too long, and the stakes are just too high.
We also can't afford to ignore the obvious common element in these crimes: nearly all of them involve the unlawful use of guns.
We are a nation of 316 million people with 310 million firearms. And because of measures like Amendment 5, even some of the most common-sense steps against gun violence face an almost impossible task in overcoming what the lawyers call "strict scrutiny".
But you know who doesn't face strict scrutiny? The violent gun criminals who routinely get light sentences or probation in our courts. I see case after case where armed criminals with a proven history of violence are treated with kid gloves.
I believe in the 2nd Amendment. I really do. I believe in it so much, I want to save it from the kind of extremist interpretations that leave no room for common sense.
There are millions of people in Missouri who, perhaps because they live away from city centers, don't see the gun violence that destroys so many young lives like Lathasha Williams. But it is not right that those who make our laws should be so far insulated from their consequences.
Because this is too important, and there can be no excuses: we must all work together to find a solution that lets lawful gun owners keep their legitimate rights WITHOUT sacrificing the right of our children to be safe and to grow up, so they can pursue THEIR own life, liberty, and happiness.
The Police need the help of the community to solve crimes, and community need the help of our elected officials like Senator Jamilah Nasheed and Mayor Francis Slay to help fix a system that is broken, a system that allows criminals to prey on our young. We all must do something now that keeps our children safe.