St. Louis alderman calls on residents to get armed

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | 5:03 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis alderman who says he is frustrated with police response to crime in his neighborhood is calling on residents to arm themselves to protect their lives and property.

Alderman Charles Quincy Troupe said Tuesday he is telling his north St. Louis constituents to acquire guns and learn how to use them.

He said that "God-fearing, law-abiding citizens and homeowners" are being preyed upon by criminals, and that police are ineffective, outnumbered or don't care.

Troupe, 72, and a former state representative, said many people don't realize they have a constitutional right to bear arms which they can use to fend off an intruder. He supports Missouri's "conceal and carry" weapons law and is recruiting residents to take the required weapons safety course. Troupe said the wrong people own guns.

"We bought the homes, we're paying the taxes and the police and the emergency personnel's salaries," he said. "Why in the hell can't we get relief from criminals? Why do they have all the power, and we don't and we're paying the damn bills."

He said people are being killed on the impoverished north side, and homes are being broken into and dismantled by scavengers who steal gutters and downspouts or worse, and that school dropouts now on the street are robbing people and snatching purses.

Troupe said when he and residents approached the district police commander last year, he said "there was nothing he could do to protect us and the community ... that he didn't have the manpower, he couldn't do it."

St. Louis police did not immediately return requests for comment. But Police Chief Dan Isom told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he understands Troupe's frustration but doesn't support citizens arming themselves.

Carrying guns, he said, is not a "recipe for a less violent community."

So far this year, St. Louis has had 157 homicides, 33 more than last year at this time.

"My position is simply the police are overtaxed, they are a reactionary force and we need a proactive solution to the problems of our community and our children," Troupe said.

"We haven't addressed children on the front end. Now we've got problems on the back end."

University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist Richard Rosenfeld, who is a visiting professor this fall at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said it's an understandable response to the rise in homicides in the city, but it's not likely to be effective.

More guns, he said, only compound crime problems in communities already awash with guns.

"Much of the problem is free and easy access to guns," Rosenfeld said. "This hope that by putting guns in the right hands will have an influence on criminals is a false hope. There's no evidence for that."

Mayor Francis Slay wrote in his blog Tuesday that some of the most violent crimes in Troupe's First Ward are committed with guns stolen from law-abiding citizens.

He said Troupe could do more good urging constituents to cooperate with investigating police officers, lending support for activities for children, and lobbying legislators to increase funding for jobs training and economic development.

Fellow Alderman Lyda Krewson called Troupe's idea a "whacky and ineffective response."

"Most of us are really not equipped to handle the seriousness and responsibility of walking around with a gun," she said. "The end result is more guns on the street."

Krewson, whose husband was shot and killed in front of their home in the tony Central West End neighborhood in 1995, said she doesn't mean to diminish the problem of crime.

She said having a gun "would not have changed the outcome of that evening. I personally don't think guns are the answer to this."


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Charles Dudley Jr December 2, 2008 | 5:38 p.m.

>>> Troupe said when he and residents approached the district police commander last year, he said "there was nothing he could do to protect us and the community ... that he didn't have the manpower, he couldn't do it." <<<

If it is this bad why not request state aide in the State National Guard Military Police Unit and institute a dark time to daylight curfew and somehow get extra help from the State Patrol as well for the day light hours.

It would not be the first time a state deployed it's National Guard Military Police Units.

This is ridiculous at the least that citizens have to feel they must carry guns to protect themselves and their neighbors.

I wish those people down their luck with this problem.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock December 2, 2008 | 7:26 p.m.

Um, it isn't a "state" emergency and only the Governor can activate the Guard. It is a bad idea to use the military as a police force. There is a distinct difference in military law, war, and civilian law enforcement. Not to mention that Guardsmen have families and jobs around the state. They should only be activated in dire emergencies or war.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 3, 2008 | 2:21 a.m.

Allan Sharrock didn't you read the above column? It clearly states that the local police force plainly said they cannot protect their citizens.

Now if the local police force cannot protect it's citizens then it is time to step up on the protection and it sounds like if a Alderman is calling for citizens to actually go buy guns to defend themselves that is a serious issue.

Notice I said that they should call for it and I guess I should have been more clear and said the St Louis Mayor and City Council if they actually care about their citizens.

Now a question here is how would you feel if you were in that situation or if it happened right here in Columbia?

(Report Comment)
tim luis December 3, 2008 | 6:46 a.m.

Several people in the article are sadly uneducated in the area of guns and crime. Read John Lott's book, "More Guns
Less Crime". When more law abiding citizens carry firearms it has the most cost effective deterrent on crime. Criminals want easy targets and their greatest fear is that of an armed citizen. They are much more concerned about facing an armed victim than that of a police officer. The police cannot and will not fix this problem and protect you.
Did you know that the police are not legally responsible to protect you; they don't even have to respond to a 911 call at all. Did you know that only 5% of all 911 calls either prevent a crime from happening or apprehend the criminal. In other words, 95% of the time you would be better off ordering a pizza when you pick up that phone. You can bury your heads in the sand or decide that you are not going to be a victim. Nothing will ever change and the criminals will run free until each citizen decides that they are going to do what the police cannot. Read "Dial 911 and die". When more and more citizens have concealed firearms it has a blanket effect in crime prevention; that's right even unarmed citizens benefit because criminals don't know who is and isn't armed. The best thing a city can do is to get together and greatly increase the number of citizens with hangun carry permits. The bad guys will hear about it and get the message.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock December 3, 2008 | 8:24 a.m.

I stand by the comment that it isn't a State emergency. It is a city emergency. It is the duty of the mayor and city manager to hire enough cops to police the streets. It isn't the governor’s job to bring in the military for their failure. If the governor started that trend then a lot of mayors wouldn't hire police to save the city tax dollars and make the state foot the bill. Then the guardsmen which some are Cops, teachers, business leaders, and homemakers would be away from home doing a job that city officials failed to plan for. Then their families and workplaces would suffer and it is a spiral effect. You can beat the military drum all you want but it isn’t going to happen. How would that look to the world if MO had to call in the military to police its citizens. It would be 24hours news media blitz!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 3, 2008 | 9:07 a.m.

Allan Sharrock So you are validating then that all citizens in this situation should go buy guns and become vigilantes being as obviously those police officers in that North St Louis area cannot handle the problem?

If that is the case then somebody is opening themselves up for one hell of a law suit.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock December 3, 2008 | 9:17 a.m.

I do believe in the second amendment. The only person who mentioned vigilantes is you. A person has a right to protect themselves. If a criminal attacks you and you have a gun then they get what they deserve. If a person takes their gun to go get even, then the law should deal with them. I don't know what lawsuit that the alderman can be sued for. He has freedom of speech rights and he won't be the first elected official to tell citizen that they should arm themselves. The citizens of STL bear some responsibility just as ours does when it comes to crime. The “no snitch” attitude doesn’t help law enforcement at all.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 3, 2008 | 10:36 a.m.

Allan Sharrock I think you really miss the entire point of it is the city's responsibility to protect it's citizens and if the city s failing to do that then yes citizens should be able to carry guns but................ it is obvious by the article that the division commander plainly stated to the Alderman that he did not have the forces to protect his own citizens under his watch.

There in is a serious problem that citizens should not have to be the ones to go out and buy guns,take the needed training,get the required permits and all when their tax payer dollars are supposed to be protecting them.

I am a firm believer as well in the 2nd Amendment but I am also a firm believer that if a tax paying citizen is in this kind of danger then something else needs to be done to rectify the issue besides telling me to go out and buy a gun.

Nobody said here those National Guard Military Police would be on station forever in the issue but IMHO they sure could not hurt in backing up the obviously out numbers cops they have there now.

What do you actually suggest that will honestly work just short of a civil riot in that area of the good citizens playing "Cowboys and Criminals" in the streets because obviously St Louis does not have the money to just go out and hire more police officers.?

It is all about solutions not more facade complacency towards citizens in need of help. That is what got them to this point in the first place.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock December 3, 2008 | 10:59 a.m.

Look it is simple if the citizens are that worried for their safety then they demand their elected officials cut spending in areas not needed and hire more COPS!! Then they can pass levies to A, hire additional cops, B replace the funding that was cut in other areas. You can get over the Guard bit because the governer is never going to do it.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 3, 2008 | 1:00 p.m.

Allan Sharrock you still miss the point.

What are they supposed to do until all of that happens and how are they to be properly protected?

You failed to answer this but yet you have all of the answers.

Are you going to go down there and stand with them?

I doubt it.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock December 3, 2008 | 1:21 p.m.

Charles seriously you need to get a grip. They will get by just like they have for the past year. It doesn't seem like the mayor and the other elected officials other than one is too worried about it. You are getting all worked up over something that you have no control over. The citizens elected officials who didn't have their safety as a priority. Now they have to deal with it. They can also form a neighborhood watch which is free and petition for more cops. Maybe since you are soo worried you should go there. I have other things to do.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand December 3, 2008 | 1:36 p.m.

Allan wrote: "Look it is simple if the citizens are that worried for their safety then they demand their elected officials cut spending in areas not needed and hire more COPS!! Then they can pass levies to A, hire additional cops, B replace the funding that was cut in other areas."

How naïve! It's NOT that simple. Just look at Columbia, where the city has no problem continuing to fund frivolous projects such as 1% for art, yet it can't aggressively expand the police force even when public opinion (e.g., here, the Tribune board, quotes in articles, letters to the editor) clearly shows that crime should be a top priority, if not THE top priority.

Or look at Kansas City, where voters approved more money for cops . . . but then the additional revenue was used for other projects.

Don't expect city leaders to care about your safety. We need to protect ourselves.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock December 3, 2008 | 1:46 p.m.

Naive? Did you even read all my posts? If their elected officails fail them then elect new ones. I agree with the second amendment and the right to conceal and carry.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand December 3, 2008 | 1:56 p.m.

"If their elected officails fail them then elect new ones."

And how often do the new ones do anything radically different that the ones who were voted out? Answer: rarely.

I have more faith in my .45 than in the city council.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 3, 2008 | 2:23 p.m.

Allan Sharrock I am not getting worked up but I am asking honest questions every citizen should be asking.

(Report Comment)
howard lyndel December 4, 2008 | 7:51 a.m.

I think you people are missing the point here, the police are not responsible for your protection.I looked up the books Tim Luis commented on earlier and he is right, its scary but its true. Ayn Rand wrote hire more cops. are you serious??? the only people who will benefit from that are donut shop owners. Look statistics show that less than 5% of all 911 calls actually prevent a crime in progress. law enforcements job is just that! to enforce the law, although most police forces say to serve and protect it is not so legally.I believe it is time for the people of this great nation to arm themselves and get proactive against violent crimes, it is time to take back our streets from these THUGS .I take comfort in the second amendment and it pleases me to see many states enacting the castle doctrine which puts the power back into the peoples hand by allowing them the right to have handguns and to use them against violent crimes using deadly force if needed.. LOOK PEOPLE READ UP!! KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. GET WITH IT..

(Report Comment)
Gregory Pierpoint February 2, 2009 | 12:34 p.m.

It takes 4 to 15 minutes to complete a 911 call and expect police presence. It take 5 seconds for a thug to kick down your door. It takes .051 seconds to use a standard revolver. Is it comforting to know that the police are only minutes away, when seconds count?
In my home, I am not a vigilante, I'm a threatened citizen. When my family is at risk, I prefer the .051 seconds. Why is it that we employed, tax payers pay the politicians who protect the thugs, who don't/can't even vote for them because as criminals they have lost the right to vote. Are we paying our legislators to protect them, if so take your pleas for campaign funds to the prisons because those are the people you serve.

(Report Comment)
bill woods July 29, 2009 | 10:59 p.m.

Only two groups at a crime scene; criminals and victims.
Then the Police to fill out the report. Conceal and carry
if you have the courage.

(Report Comment)
kathi swearingen September 6, 2009 | 12:45 a.m.

I use to work for Mr. Troupe when he was a state representative. He is one of the most intelligent men I have ever had the honor to meet. I support him wanting us to be able to protect ourselves. I live in a small town and the police department as well as our local sheriff's department are so corrupt! Our Mayor enables this behavior. He is worthless. Our State Representative Kenny Jones, also our past Sheriff flatly refuses any help to the citizens in our community. Those of us who do complain then live in fear of retaliation. They just beat us down. I dread anytime that I have to call the police. It all depends on who you are in this town or whether they like you or not. I'm sorry but I was under the impression they were paid to serve and to protect. Not see how many people they can do favors for. Some of those people are meth users and cookers. Makes a person feel real safe. I might complain about the wrongful or complete failure of the city or the law enforcement doing their jobs, however the way I see it if they were doing their jobs right then I wouldn't have anything to complain about. This year I ran for Mayor, due to the sudden death of my brother, also my best friend, I did not contact Mr. Troupe for advice nor did I campaign like I should have. I still pulled 82 votes, our current Mayor pulled 343 votes. I have every intention of running again in 2011. The political end of the town does not like me very much as they have pushed me going to the media once already. If there was any way I could get a weapons permit, I would own one now! I need one now, however the people that are threating me are on the sheriff's department. In order to obtain a weapon's permit we have to go thru the Sheriff's department. Since they are protecting one of their own due to me having to file a child abuse report on this deputy I'm sure I would not be approved. I am currently living my life in fear from law enforcement. The deputies wife has assaulted me once, the deputy has threatened me and he has had another deputy threaten me with a felony charge that I didn't do. The sheriff is backing him up. I am afraid to even go to the store for fear they will kill me. So I am a firm believer of carrying a weapon to protect ourselves and our families. I am a single, disabled mother. When I leave the house if I don't have someone with me I take my dog Spirit. I'm very confident he would protect me to the best of his ability. He (the deputy) has filed false charges against me. We as citizens cannot depend on law enforcement to do their jobs in protecting us. It makes sense to buy a gun, take the classes, and be able to protect yourself and your family! Fight the criminals it's time they fear us instead of us fearing them. We have the right to live our lives free of fear. Lets turn the tables on the bad guys. Take a stand and support Mr. Troupe, he is looking out for our best interest.

(Report Comment)

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