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Missouri lawmakers advance crime bill

Lawmakers, many wearing masks, sit at their desks inside the House chamber Monday, April 27, 2020, in Jefferson City, Mo. Members of the House returned to the Capitol Monday to begin debate on the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, a daunting task amid declining revenue because of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Lawmakers, many wearing masks, sit at their desks inside the House chamber Monday, April 27, 2020, in Jefferson City, Mo. Members of the House returned to the Capitol Monday to begin debate on the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, a daunting task amid declining revenue because of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)(Jeff Roberson | AP)
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 9:45 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) —

A committee on Wednesday advanced a bill aimed at curbing violent crime in Missouri to be debated in the state Senate.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson called lawmakers back to work this summer to pass the legislation, which he said is needed to address a surge in murders in the state’s biggest cities.

The measure would strengthen witness protection programs and allow St. Louis police to live outside the city, an attempt at recruiting more officers to the understaffed department.

The bill also would enact harsher penalties for people who sell guns to minors without their parents' permission and would allow judges to decide whether a child between the ages of 12 and 18 should be tried as an adult in court for unlawful use of weapons and armed criminal action.

"When you talk about juveniles, you're not talking about little minor juvenile violations," Parson said Wednesday. "You're talking about people involved in violent crimes."

Missouri lawmakers just two years ago passed a measure that raised the age to be tried as an adult from 17 to 18 years old.

Racial justice advocates and Black lawmakers have criticized Parson for prioritizing that legislation but not calling on the Legislature to work on police accountability measures.

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