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Missouri Rep. Lane Roberts thinks there’s a way to address juveniles carrying guns

Rep. Lane Roberts speaks at a microphone on the House floor. Roberts is the sponsor of a House bill that Republicans say will help curb violent crime in Missouri. It includes a provision allowing for the appointment of a special prosecutor to address violent crime in jurisdictions that exceed a certain murder case rate.
Tim Bommel
Missouri House of Representatives
Rep. Lane Roberts speaks on the House floor.

A House bill allowing for the appointment of a special prosecutor to address violent crime in qualifying areas is awaiting debate on the Senate floor.

Only jurisdictions where the homicide case rate exceeds 35 per 100,000 people would be subject to that portion of the bill. Currently, only St. Louis meets the threshold.

A majority of House Republicans declined to add an amendment to the bill that would bar juveniles from carrying firearms without adult supervision on public property.

But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin, said legislators are still working on language that could address the issue.

Before becoming a legislator, Roberts was the director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety under Gov. Jay Nixon. He also served as police chief in Joplin.

Roberts was the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast. Here are some of the topics he talked about:

  • His background in law enforcement.
  • Republicans’ decision to not add to that bill a provision barring juveniles from carrying firearms on public land without adult supervision. Roberts said young people do not have the life experience to understand the consequences of carrying a gun. However, he said finding the right language to address that issue has been difficult.
  • The provision in his bill allowing for the appointment of a special prosecutor. Roberts said that he doesn’t care who the circuit attorney is but that St. Louis’ crime rates affect the rest of the state.
  • A bill that would remove local control of the St. Louis Police Department and move it to a state-appointed board. Roberts said he is less focused on that legislation but thinks it could be beneficial alongside his bill.

Roberts was first elected to the state legislature in 2018. He represents part of Jasper and Newton counties, including the city of Joplin.

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.