JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Rasheen Aldridge Jr. woke up Wednesday and, after a quiet moment of prayer, shed tears.
Four years after helping fellow community activist Bruce Franks Jr. get elected to represent Missouri’s 78th District in the State House of Representatives, it was Aldridge’s turn to be sworn into the same seat as Franks’ successor.
“I woke up this morning and it officially hit me that I am about to become the next state representative of the district that serves 32,000 individuals in one of the most distressed communities in the City of St. Louis, and people entrusted me to take this responsibility,” Aldridge said in an interview in his new office at the Missouri Capitol.
Franks’ picture and name placard sit just a few feet away piled on a legislative aide’s desk.
Aldridge said the two spoke last month and saw each other at a conference in Washington DC. He offered praise for his predecessor’s work in speaking up for his community and in working across the aisle with lawmakers who came from a rural part of the state.
Aldridge is one of 11 freshman lawmakers who were sworn in at noon Wednesday. He’s pre-filed a bill which would require gun owners to report stolen guns within 72 hours, a move which Aldridge, a gun owner, said would strengthen the Second Amendment, and would help “connect the dots” when it comes to weapons trafficking.
In a news conference after the first session, Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr stopped short of offering any specific opinion on bills filed relating to gun violence. Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden told FOX2 that gun control legislation per se is likely a non-starter in both chambers.
“I’m excited to have that conversation with them, see how we can make all of our cities safer,” Aldridge said of coming discussions with Republicans who hold a supermajority in both houses, “because we have crime through the roof right now in the state of Missouri.”