Missouri Continues to Face One of the Worst Gun Violence Epidemics in the Country.

Missouri has long experienced a gun violence crisis. It has the 6th-highest rate of gun violence in the country, with 1,222 people killed and 2,584 others wounded by guns in an average year in Missouri. So far, this year has been no exception. The state has had a widespread epidemic for some time: St. Louis’s two leading children’s hospitals treated more young people with gunshot wounds in 2020 than they had for any other calendar year on record, and the state continues to face high levels of gun suicides, with most of the gun deaths in the state being by suicide. 2020 was a devastating year for gun violence in Missouri, and shootings have continued for the first few months of 2021. This month, Missouri has seen gun violence throughout the state, including shootings of children, domestic violence and community gun violence. One weekend in March, two 15-year-olds were fatally shot in Kansas City. At the beginning of the month, a St. Louis man killed two children and his wife, whom he was separated from, before shooting and killing himself. Additionally, there have been at least four police involved shootings throughout the month. Weak gun laws in Missouri create easy access to guns, enabling this public health crisis. The pandemic has also exacerbated the root causes of gun violence, in Missouri and across the country. Lack of access to opportunity is a key driver of gun violence and decades of policy decisions and underinvestment in Black and Latino communities have created areas of concentrated disadvantage, where public health crises — including both COVID and gun violence — thrive.

 

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