Cleveland mayor outlines new gun control proposals to city council

On Tuesday, June 17, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson held a press conference and announced his plans to enact several "new" gun control measures in his city. This week, the exact language of the proposals was released.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the proposal would:

  • Require gun offenders to register with the city's safety department within five days of either being released from prison, or within five days of moving to Cleveland. The offender would have to re-register every four years.
  • Prohibit the purchase or acquisition of more than one gun each 90 days.
  • Prohibit leaving a gun within access of someone less than 18 years old.
  • Punish failure to report gun sales or ownership transfers to Cleveland police.
  • Prohibit the marketing, display or sale of "facsimile firearms."
  • Require gun owners to report within 48 hours of when the owner should have known the firearm was lost or stolen.
  • Allow people to turn in "illegal firearms" without a written statement and without risking prosecution for possessing an "illegal firearm."
  • Prohibit the negligent sale of guns to someone who can't legally own them.
  • Outlaw the sale of brass knuckles and advanced martial arts weapons to anyone other than law enforcement officers.
  • Authorize police to seize a gun from someone who has been "drinking, disturbing the peace, threatening harm and the officer has reasonable cause to believe the deadly weapon may be used."

According to the article, the legislation would also outlaw long-bladed pocket knives, sling shots and pea shooters, tear gas guns and "stench bombs."

Violators of these new ordinances could be charged with a first degree misdemeanor.

According to the article, the proposal is expected to be referred to council's public safety committee for debate. If City Council President Kevin Kelley and public safety Chairman Matt Zone are any indication, Clevelanders can't expect any better sense of reason from the council:

Gun violence has taken far too many lives in our community. The City of Cleveland must act aggressively to address this issue," Kelley said in a written statement released by the mayor's office. "I look forward to further discussion of the ordinances through the committee process where Councilman Zone has assured a thorough hearing process."

"The Public Safety Committee welcomes this legislation and the conversations that it will prompt to help address this high priority issue in our city," Zone said in a written statement released by the mayor's office. "I am confident that my colleagues in Council and on the Safety Committee will have thoughtful and productive input as we move forward with the legislative process."

Last month, immediately after the mayor introduced his proposals, Buckeye Firearms Association began receiving calls from the media for our response. BFA President Jim Irvine and Legal Chair Ken Hanson let reporters know in no uncertain terms - if the city passes new gun control in violation of state law, we will sue. And we will win, just as we won our last suit against the city, filed in 2009 after city officials had unlawfully continued to enforce 19 separate gun control ordinances in violation of state law. The state Supreme Court has ruled in our favor on this matter - twice.

Lest anyone believe that the mayor would truly be free to snuff out crime were these laws took effect, a little history lesson is in order.

When Mayor Jackson took office in January of 2006, the City of Cleveland was enforcing a so-called "assault" weapons ban. With passage of HB 347 late that same year, the ban was rendered unenforceable. Jackson immediately set about to complain that he could no longer prosecute people for crimes committed with these guns, and that the loss of that tool had directly resulted in Cleveland’s increasing violent crime problem. The mayor even staged press conferences behind a table of scary-looking guns, implying that they had been confiscated through the now-defunct ban.

We challenged the media to investigate whether or not Jackson's claims were true. Getting the answer would be easy for a responsible journalist to do - if the city was having troubles prosecuting offenses in the absence of the ban, that would show through a significant drop in convictions related to those offenses. No one at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, or any other news organization, for that matter, took it upon themselves to investigate. So we did.

Public records requests by Buckeye Firearms Association revealed that in all of 2006, Jackson's first year in office, there was not one single person charged with a violation of Cleveland’s assault weapons ban. That’s right, not even one.

In 2007 (before HB347 took effect), there was one person prosecuted for a violation of Cleveland’s bans. The case never made it to trial because the Grand Jury returned a “no bill”, meaning they didn’t even find the enough evidence of a crime for the case to move forward to a trial.

In the mayor’s entire tenure, not only had the City of Cleveland not convicted a single person under their so-called assault weapons ban; they never even took one case to trial!

Even going back to 2005, we found only two people charged with violating Cleveland’s ban. They either pled, or were found guilty. Obviously, the (not so) big drop in convictions for this now-defunct law had nothing to do with Cleveland’s crime problem. That's because the City of Cleveland has rarely used its gun control laws against criminals before, and they won't now. (In fact, our investigation revealed far more about an administration that is soft on gun crime than about inanimate objects causing their woes. Not only did the city fail to enforce their ordinances, but they let bad guys go.)

When a mayor and police chief stand up and publicly announce that they are plotting to openly refuse to follow the law, they are behaving exactly like the criminals they claim to be seeking to bring to justice.

When a mayor and police chief refuse to do things that are proven to reduce crime, and instead commit their city to spending time, money, and resources on things that can't possibly reduce crime and/or are illegal, it is gross negligence. It's no surprise that crime is up in Cleveland. What else would anyone expect when the city "leaders" are part of the problem instead of part of the solution?

As he has so many times before, Mayor Jackson is once again attempting some slight of hand to divert attention from his city's very real crime problems, working to ignore the facts and rely on propaganda. And thus far, the Plain Dealer seems every bit as willing to assist him in the deception as they have in the past.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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