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Lewis Reed president of the Board of Aldermen

Lewis Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, talks with the editorial board at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. Reed is running for re-election to the office. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — Aldermanic President Lewis Reed on Wednesday proposed requiring licensed gun dealers in the city to tell police whenever a prospective buyer fails a federal background check.

“It’s hard to watch the news or read the paper without hearing or reading about another incident involving a firearm,” Reed said Wednesday in a news release. “We have to do something to reduce the chance of a weapon ending up in the wrong hands.”

Reed will introduce the measure Friday at the Board of Aldermen’s first meeting after a two-month summer break.

His release said the bill would alert police that a potential crime has been committed, “empowering them to intervene before a person with a dangerous history get their hands on a gun.”

Mary Ries, an aide to Reed, said that refers to a federal law that makes it illegal to lie when providing information for a federal background check.

The Associated Press has reported that the vast majority of background check rejections across the nation last year involved people found to have a criminal past making them ineligible. The AP said fewer than 100,000 of the 26 million checks conducted last year led to denials.

Ries said Reed believes that his measure would not violate a Missouri law barring local gun regulations going beyond those imposed by the state.

A fact sheet from Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group that supports measures like Reed’s, says state preemption laws generally do not prevent municipalities from investigating crimes and enforcing existing law.

“Since this requirement is an exercise of traditional law enforcement functions, rather than a regulation related to firearms, there are strong arguments that such an ordinance falls outside the scope” of state preemption laws, the group said.

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