ST. LOUIS —
A standing-room-only crowd packed into the auditorium at Harris-Stowe State University Wednesday night, in hopes of hearing potential solutions for violence in St. Louis.
But at times, it got quite contentious.
For being called a town hall, most of the evening consisted of prepared speeches from elected leaders and organizers only allowed ten questions from the crowd. Dozens lined up for the chance to speak.
That meant sometimes the audience didn't wait for an open microphone to speak out.
"We are hurting bad," said one woman in the crowd. "We had to bury five people in our family within two days."
"Y’all ain’t doing nothing. Why does the north side look like that?" said another man, who interrupted Public Safety Director Judge Jimmy Edwards' speech. The man also called for the firing of SLMPD Police Chief John Hayden, before being escorted out of the building.
Congressman William Lacy Clay said the gridlock has to end.
"Right now, Congress has the power to save American lives and Congress should be doing nothing less," Clay told the crowd.
Clay is pushing for HR 3534 that would give cities like St. Louis the power to pass their own gun legislation.
He views it as a compromise with communities that don't want to change the law.
"I don’t care what you do out there, help us with this tragedy," Clay said.
Clay's bill so far doesn't have much bipartisan support. We asked the nine-term congressman how he would break through the gridlock.
"Keep sending them progressive legislation that is common sense that addresses the easy accessibility of these deadly weapons," Clay said.
While the crowd was mostly in support of gun control methods, there was a lone voice that called for the protection of the Second Amendment.
"No amount of money or legislation will stop violence by guns, knives, rocks or humans," the speaker said.
Later in the evening, Judge Jimmy Edwards officially endorsed Congressman Clay's legislation.
Meanwhile, we reached out to all of our viewing area's congressional leaders.
Only Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois replied.
He told 5 On Your Side, he'll push for three new pieces of legislation:
- Expansion of red flag laws
- More coordination between law enforcement.
- Legislation that would help communities develop behavioral threat assessment and management systems similar to ones that the Secret Service and Capitol Hill Police use to prevent attacks.