St. Louis Gun Docket: Can the Courts Do a Better Job of Prosecuting Weapons Offenses?

eric schmitt 1.jpg
State Senator Eric Schmitt
At the Capitol this session, Missouri legislators have introduced all sorts of bills related to guns, some aimed at reducing violence with stricter policies around sales -- and a whole lot more aimed at stopping any gun control measures altogether.

But Republican State Senator Eric Schmitt is promoting a different kind of gun bill -- one that doesn't focus on access to weapons, but rather how the courts are prosecuting gun crimes in the St. Louis

"We need to have some bold action here," Schmitt tells Daily RFT. "When you're talking about gun violence in this city...clearly what's happening is spiraling."

What's his solution?

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Senate Bill 448 would create what's called a "special armed offender docket" in the circuit court of St. Louis that Schmitt says would allow for a more focused approach to crimes involving weapons. As part of this proposal, the court would have two judges dedicated to gun crimes.

"They would deal with crimes like armed criminal action, unlawful use of a weapon...a lot of the crimes that are reported every night on the evening news," he explains.

As written, SB 448, full version on view below, also specifies:

Within six months after each anniversary of the creation of any armed offender docket, the circuit court shall provide and publish a public report on the operations of the armed offender docket during the year preceding the anniversary, including any commentary on such operations as may be offered by such research university or a prosecuting attorney, circuit attorney, or law enforcement agency in said circuit.

That means that the courts would do a better job of tracking and studying trends of gun violence in St. Louis, he says.

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Josh Rowan
Crime scene after a shooting in January at the Stevens Institute of Business and Arts in St. Louis.

"It's an independent evaluation of what's happening. Is this working?" he says, adding, "It allows those judges to be a little bit more plugged in."

If there were a specific gun docket, prosecutors might have a better chance of preventing repeat offenses, he argues.

"If someone is arrested...we don't want them ever doing something like that again," Schmitt says.

Continue for more of our interview with Eric Schmitt and for the full draft.

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You mean they're finally pretending to listen? It's a start. I've long been whining that the issue doesn't end with proper legislation, but also needs to be addressed within our court system, which is currently somewhat of a joke. Armed, violent offenders, child molesters & rapists are continually given soft pleas & sentencing, and later released early to make room for those bad, horrible, peace loving reefer madness folks, or someone who couldn't pay their taxes, or wrote a bad check. If we can't get BOTH proper gun control legislation passed AND judicious use of retributive justice, we are soooo screwed. Getting control of our street violence calls for many different varied measures. I haven't read the bill yet, but as stated, it's a start. Let's just make sure no racial profiling is allowed, perhaps ethnicity should be removed from the docket info so as to ensure this.... 


I think there should be a gun court.  There are issues here that the article doesn't touch on.  

Stolen guns need to be returned to their rightful owners.  I'm not clear on how many guns were originally registered to an individual person, but I think that at some time or another, most were or are.  If there is a pattern to the gun traffic, an attempt to return property to its rightful owner should reveal it to anyone who is looking for it. Someone needs to be looking for it.

An attempt to return property to its rightful owner would also reveal the fencing operations that go on.  Closing down any scrap metal yards that are fencing operations would be a huge start.  There's no reason to go to a scrapyard and see new ladders, new extension cords and newly chopped out wiring being sold, and that's the way it is now.  These guys will get caught because there are cameras on the ATMs.  If you make it hard to steal, you make it hard to buy dope.  If it's hard, at least some people will quit.  Some will move to friendlier places.  Either one is a win for the city.

Jason Goad
Jason Goad

There should always be tougher sentences for people who commit crimes with guns. I know of a guy who got more time for getting busted with weed than for the stolen gun he was also caught with.

Robin Gray
Robin Gray

Not when they're let out of prison nine months after being found guilty because our prisons are full. In other words, NO

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