Then and now

Sam Allender (1862-1932)

In 1917, the Missouri General Assembly passed two groundbreaking pieces of legislation.

Lawmakers approved a sweeping gun control measure.

And they abolished capital punishment.

Gov. Frederick Gardner vetoed the gun bill, even though it had been championed by Sam Allender, the highly regarded chief of detectives for the St. Louis Police Department. -> Gardner cited the opposition of several prominent businessmen who said the bill discriminated against Missouri merchants.

But Gardner, a Democrat whose business interests included the St. Louis Coffin Co., signed the death penalty bill.*

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch applauded the end of capital punishment in an editorial (March 20, 1917): “Missouri is in good company in refusing longer to impose on its officials the repulsive duty of executing criminals.”

And then Missouri, a fickle state, reversed course — on both measures.

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