St. Louis County set to ban domestic violence perpetrators from carrying concealed weapons
(CNN) -- Domestic violence perpetrators and those with orders of protection against them in St. Louis County, Missouri, will be banned from carrying concealed weapons come March, following a County Council vote.
St. Louis County Council members voted Tuesday along party and gender lines to adopt Bill No. 29. The council's four women, all Democrats, voted in favor while its three men, all Republicans, were opposed.
County Executive Sam Page is set to sign the bill into law on March 10, according to Deputy County Clerk Janie Alexander, who said Page has already signaled support for the legislation.
The measure will have the effect of turning a "federal felony charge" into "an ordinance violation" or "ticket," according to Councilman Tim Fitch.
"So right now when a police officer stops someone and they have a firearm and they have been convicted of domestic violence, they could be arrested and charged in the federal system with a felony," Fitch said at the council meeting Tuesday. "So we are going to take something you can get convicted for and receive a 10-year sentence and make it an ordinance violation, which is basically a ticket. Less than a speeding ticket. That's what this bill does."
Councilman Ernie Trakas also voiced concern over the measure, saying it "overreaches, is not well thought out and I believe it violates state law." Trakas added that the bill encroaches on Second Amendment rights.
Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway conceded that the measure "would make an ordinance that doesn't have the same penalties as a federal crime but the problem is that these particular federal crimes do not get prosecuted. Dunaway said at the meeting that of "all the cases that run across the US attorney's desk, this is not one that does or will take priority. They are too busy with much bigger issues."
"If we can hand this law over to the county government, it is more likely to be prosecuted than it is going to be prosecuted by federal prosecutors," she added.
The bill's passage comes weeks after a shooting incident in which police say 45-year-old James Kempf, of Fenton, Missouri, shot his estranged wife in the leg and killed her father when he tried to intervene, according to the River Front Times. The St. Louis publication reported that Kempf and his wife had been in the midst of a divorce and she had taken out an order of protection against him last fall, citing court records. Kempf died by suicide in late January after a police manhunt led them to his location in northwest Arkansas, according to the paper.
"I am strongly of the belief that this bill does two things that should be of the utmost priority in St. Louis County: Curb gun violence and also helping to curb intimate partner violence," Councilwoman Lisa Clancy said at Tuesday's meeting.
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