Cleveland mayor proposes "new" gun control laws; Buckeye Firearms Assoc. threatens lawsuit

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.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Jackson wants to place a limit on gun buys to one every 90 days and create a gun registry that would require convicted gun offenders to register with police once a year for four years. He wants to restrict gun owners from leaving firearms in places accessible to minors and require gun owners to report to police when their guns are stolen.

The city's law department is currently drafting new ordinances around these and other proposals, which are expected to be ready in mid July.

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.

In his coverage of the mayor's announcement, Plain Dealer reporter Mark Naymik asserts that Jackson isn't known for saber rattling (we beg to differ), but even Naymik is forced to admit that "it's hard to see how his latest set of gun proposals is more than just tough talk. "

Indeed, how much more empty could a proposal be than one which proposes to introduce "new" city laws which do the same thing as laws which are already in place?

Lest anyone believe that the mayor would truly be free to snuff out crime were these laws still in 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.

Media Coverage:

Cleveland Plain Dealer - Cleveland's new gun proposals are just tough talk until legal shootout settles debate

Jackson's proposals received wide attention last week. News organization from the San Francisco Chronicle to Washington Times noted the proposals. Gun-rights advocates, who typically jump on such proposals, held their fire.

So, I asked Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, about Jackson's proposals. He told me the proposed gun restrictions would either duplicate what's already on the books, do nothing to reduce gun violence, or contradict existing gun laws. (I know gun advocates say that about virtually every proposed control measure.)

"Bottom line -- nothing they are proposing will stop/prevent criminals from committing crimes," Irvine said. "We have the mayor and chief of police holding a press conference to say they don't intend to follow the law. And then people wonder why the citizens of the city don't think they have to."

Irvine said city leaders never invite gun advocates to the table, which leaves them open to legal challenges. And gun advocates are happy to take them to court.

"If they want to pass illegal laws, be dragged into court again, and pay our legal bills, we will sue them again," Irvine said.

Asked to respond, Harper said, "We know that there is a fight ahead."

Washington Times - Cleveland mayor seeks registry for gun offenders

Buckeye Firearms spokesman Ken Hanson said a gun offender registry is not needed because the federal and state governments already have databases with the names of people who are not allowed to own firearms. He said the registries in those other cities have done nothing to decrease gun violence.

Hanson said there are already laws covering the prohibitions sought by the mayor. Requiring the reporting of firearm transfers to police and limiting the number of guns a person can buy is a violation of state law.

“I understand why they’re asking the questions,” Hanson said. “What I don’t understand is why the officials of one of the biggest cities in Ohio fundamentally misunderstand Ohio law.”

Jackson spokeswoman Maureen Harper said the city would not respond to Hanson.

 

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