Missouri is experiencing a record number of shootings and a wave of victims unwilling to cooperate. The Kansas City Star questions whether a task force, like the one set up to dramatically impact domestic violence cases in the 1980s, could help change the direction of this growing problem.
Sixty percent of last year’s shooting victims in the Kansas City area refused to work with police. What happens when there is no victim-cooperation? In these non-fatal shooting cases, the charges are dropped and the suspected shooter is allowed to go free and possibly commit further acts of violence.
A lengthy piece in the Kansas City Star this week draws similarities between the shootings and the culture of domestic violence that plagued the state several decades ago. When domestic violence aggressors realized their victims wouldn’t cooperate with a less than cooperative system, they grew bolder and the number of domestic violence incidents skyrocketed.
According to the Kansas City Star:
After all, the situations share similarities. Fearful victims, for one. A legal system unfriendly to their plight, for another.
Both problems seemed intractable. Skepticism abounded that anything could be done.
But domestic assault victims of the 1980s owned a big advantage over today’s shooting victims: advocates, including many from women’s shelters, who publicized the problem and demanded a safer society. In 1987, Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft appointed a domestic violence task force to seek solutions. Other states also sought answers.
But today, victims of nonfatal shootings mostly stand alone.
The “no snitching” attitude that prevails many of today’s urban centers has contributed to shooting suspects walking free. And without anyone to finger them, without a witness or a victim to cooperate with police, there really is no case.
The Star report suggests that a panel could come together to make significant and lasting changes, if the motivation to do so was there. Things like swift and immediate punishments and the willingness of prosecutors to go forward with charges even when a victim is unwilling to help, have worked in cracking down on domestic violence cases and could potentially have an impact on the current shooting epidemic.
St. Louis has already made a few changes to combat the violence, including boosting bail for gun offenses up to tenfold. Possibly as a result, homicides dropped in that city 20% since the bail amounts were raised. Ironically, some homicide cases in Jackson County have lower bonds than the weapons cases in St. Louis.
There’s little doubt that the state will soon be forced to spend time and money investigating ways to crack down on the violence, and that local law enforcement agencies will be getting more creative with handling such crimes. As a result, if you are accused of a weapons offense, you can bet that you won’t get the free pass you may have five years ago.
If you are charged with possessing an illegal weapon or even using that weapon in a crime, we may be able to help. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.