ST. LOUIS—Without revealing much of the specifics, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones on Tuesday again teased a pending move this fall in the Board of Aldermen to support local legislation addressing gun violence. Before the end of the day, the move was already panned by Missouri's Attorney General who promised a legal challenge.

At a listening session with gun violence survivors, Mayor Jones broadly outlined a legislative agenda city leaders will look to pass in an effort to protect neighborhoods in St. Louis from gun violence.

It would seek to:

  • Ban “military-grade” weapons, like an AK-47 or an AR-15

  • Prevent transfer or sale of guns to minors

  • Address untraceable firearms

  • Prohibit insurrectionists and those convicted of hate crimes from possessing guns

On Aug. 3, Jones signed Board Bill 29, which bans the open carrying of firearms without a concealed carry permit. She said then her office was preparing gun safety legislation ahead of the fall aldermanic session starting in September.

Jones was joined Tuesday by five members of the Board of Aldermen including Alisha Sonnier, Shameem Clark-Hubbard, Pam Boyd, Tom Oldenburg and Daniela Velazquez. Board President Megan Green's office said she was invited, but had a scheduling conflict.

The board bill signed earlier this month walks a legal tightrope state lawmakers left behind when they passed a 2014 bill that allowed for open carry without a permit.  That state law did not explicitly limit a city’s ability to pass new legislation requiring those who want to carry firearms openly from requiring a permit.

The measures suggested Tuesday, without speciific bill language, prompted a letter from Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who said the ideas violate the state's constitution.

"I will zealously perform my constitutional duty to defend the rights of each law-abiding citizen to “keep and bear arms … in defense of [their] home, person, family and property…” which is the promise made to them by the Missouri Constitution. Mo. Const. art. I, § 23," Bailey, who is seeking election in 2024, wrote. 

"It is my hope that you will reverse course and use existing law to combat the crime plaguing your city, rather than choosing to target the rights of law-abiding Missourians. In other words, I encourage you to go after criminals, not guns," he said.

A GOP supermajority in the Missouri General Assembly which has opposed gun restrictions would also be an obstacle to the proposals. 

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Tracy conceded both challenges were possible, but supports the local proposals.

“Some things might get knocked down, but this will get the conversation going because we’re going to take forward every tool in this city,” he said.

Jones said the city was ready to thread the legal needle and exploit loopholes.

“The legislation that the aldermen will be filing in the coming days are things that are not currently covered in state legislature. Does that mean that they won't try to pass things later on absolutely, or sue us? Absolutely,” she said. ”The state legislature has us fighting crime with our hands tied behind our backs and so with the with the one hand free that we do have, we’re gonna fight like hell.”

Erica Jones was among those participating in Tuesday’s listening session. Jones’ daughter, Whitney was 24 when she and a friend were murdered Aug. 13, 2015 in the city’s Walnut Park neighborhood in a case that has not been solved. Jones said her daughter, an aspiring nurse who left behind a young son, was killed by a military-style weapon.

“I’m not saying that we should take guns away from people, those that are gun owners. I’m not saying that. But be smart about how you do things,” Erica Jones said, encouraging safe storage.

“You never know what that gun is going to be used for or how it’s going to be used. We’re trying to duck and dodge. We shouldn’t have to duck and dodge,” she said.