Live mural on ‘Guns in America’ invokes wide range of opinions

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ST. LOUIS - For one night only, the "Guns in America" art exhibit was on display at the Regional Arts Commission. The live mural created by TIME Magazine and artist JR features 245 individuals with different stories and ideas to contribute to the gun debate.

The event Monday night (Nov. 5) drew activists against gun violence, supporters of the Second Amendment, and those somewhere in between.

"Gun violence is the biggest problem we have right now in the City of St. Louis," said Jimmie Edwards, Director of Public Safety.

Edwards is featured in the spread alongside colleagues Mayor Lyda Krewson and Police Chief John Hayden. Edwards said he believes in the Constitution, but he also believes in restrictions to the Constitution.

"We can't fix things unless we acknowledge that we have a problem. We have a problem with guns in the City of St. Louis," said Edwards. "In order to fix this problem, we need to eradicate guns."

People on the other side of the issue say guns are not the problem.

"We have a crime issue," said Kevin Dixie of No Other Choice Firearms Training. "It's affecting some communities worse than others. We don't have a gun violence issue, we have a violence issue."

Dixie said he grew up in the inner city of St. Louis and witnessed gun violence firsthand. Rather than calling for a ban on guns, his organization aims to treat the source of the problems by addressing mental illness, rebuilding families, and providing job training and employment opportunities.

Becky Morgan with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said her groups supports the Second Amendment but pushes for change in the state legislature that will reduce gun violence with "common sense solutions."

"In Missouri, we have some of the loosest gun laws in the country," said Morgan adding there need to be more thorough background checks for individuals purchasing firearms.

Sheri Bilderback, a certified pistol instructor, and rape survivor began training with firearms about three years ago to feel safer in St. Louis.

"I had three men attempt to carjack me, and two weeks before in a city park I had three men threaten to kill me, and I thought 'Well, okay, I have to do something.'"

By visiting the online interactive mural, visitors can hear each person share their story, where they are coming from, and how they got here.

"I've been trying to listen to all 248 people. I'm probably 60 or 70 in," said T.J. Kirgin with Tactical S*** in St. Peters who is featured in the article. "What it's done for me is it's told me that it's not a black and white issue, it's not yes or no, that each of these 248 people have a different belief or a different opinion, but that's what America's all about."

The St. Louisans are featured with people from Dallas and Washington D.C., two more cities greatly affected by violence with guns.



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