Guns on the street blamed in rising St. Louis murder rate

ST. LOUIS (AP) - With St. Louis closing in on 200 homicides for 2017, the mayor and other civic leaders are renewing a push to get guns off the streets.

The city has seen 196 murders so far this year, continuing an alarming four-year trend. The annual homicide total has risen steadily from 120 in 2013. The last time St. Louis recorded more than 200 homicides was the 204 killings in 1995.

Mayor Lyda Krewson, speaking at a news conference on Friday, said violence "is at a crisis level."

Krewson announced a gun buy-back program expected to begin as early as next week. Those who bring in a gun will get a gift certificate to a grocery store, and perhaps other gift certificates. The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis is funding the program.