This month has given Gov. Mike Parson a chance to demonstrate bold leadership and prove to Missourians that his rise to the state's highest office was more than just an accident prompted by his disgraced predecessor's resignation.

Parson knows from having toured St. Louis with Mayor Lyda Krewson how dire the gun situation is here. He knows that the Legislature has the ability to rework existing law so law enforcers can crack down on rampant gun violence.

But Parson refuses to order the Legislature to take up gun violence in the upcoming Sept. 9 special session — even when confronted with the grim statistic of 13 dead St. Louis children.

What more motivation does he need? How many gallons of spilled children's blood are enough to make Parson stand up and lead?

On our Friday op-ed page, Superintendent Kelvin Adams expresses in sorrowful detail the crisis management scenes experienced by teachers and administrators as children grapple with the loss of their brothers, sisters and friends.

"I just lost my brother, and now I lost my best friend. I can't take this . anymore," one St. Louis student told a St. Louis Public Schools social worker. If ever there was a call for bold responses, this is it.

Rep. William Lacy Clay joined members of the St. Louis aldermanic black caucus Wednesday to appeal for federal and state action. The Board of Education will convene a special work session next Thursday to discuss ways to cope. These are examples of real leadership by people who care. Where are Parson and the Legislature?

What moves Parson is the crushing plight of Missourians burdened by taxes when they sell a vehicle, trailer, boat or outboard motor. The issue is so blindingly urgent that it must be addressed now — immediately! — in a Sept. 9 special session. But children killed or maimed by gunfire don't rate in his book.

Why should the Legislature engage on this issue? Because lawmakers are responsible for the laws that allowed widespread circulation of guns on the streets. Lawmakers revoked local government control over gun enforcement, severely limiting the ability of police and prosecutors to intervene before bullets mow down more children.

On Parson's watch, the state is stripping thousands of poor children off Medicaid rolls, putting young lives in danger because parents on the edge of poverty can no longer afford the medicines those kids require.

Parson is willing to exert extraordinary political and legal efforts to shut down abortion clinics in the name of protecting life. But when the call goes out for bold leadership to protect the children we see cowering in fear, right before our eyes, Parson shrinks into the background.

If this is his way of showing Missourians why he deserves to continue as governor, no thanks. We've seen all we need to see.

Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.


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