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 more devastating gun violence throughout the state, including shootings of children, community gun violence, and two separate multiple-victim shootings. One weekend in April, a four-year-old girl was unintentionally shot by her five-year-old sister. A 24-year-old KCUR reporter was killed in her apartment after a bullet went through her window. There were at least two separate shootings with multiple victims this month, one at the beginning of April at a convenience store in Koshkonong, Missouri in which four were shot, one fatally, and one this past weekend in Kansas City in which four people were shot, including one fatally.
According to the Kansas City Star, gun violence in Kansas City has increased this April compared to April of 2020 as well as the previous months of 2021. There have been at least 51 people shot, nine fatally in the Kansas City metro area this month. See more about Kansas City homicides here and St. Louis homicides here.
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 resources 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.
More information on gun violence in Missouri is available here.