Cleveland Mayor's latest theory on cause of crime wave: Statewide Preemption

By Chad D. Baus

The City of Cleveland is now considered to be one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in America. Cleveland’s homicide rate has been on the rise ever since drastic cuts in the police department’s manpower and programs were made.

Just one week after Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson rightly theorized to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that a "drought" in the supply of powdered cocaine to his city "could be to blame for a spike in certain violent crimes close to home", it was back to the status quo for the anti-self-defense Mayor.

In an August 15 press release, while struggling to get ahead of the public relations debacle he faces while presiding over a 14.1% increase in homicides already this year (and a 26.5% increase in homicide with firearms), the Mayor labeled several things he believes has caused the crime epidemic. Chief among them is HB347, a law which took effect in March, which acted to guarantee uniformity on the state's gun laws.

Mayor Jackson's 8/15/07 press release states:

    "In large part, I attribute this to the increased availability of guns on our City streets and the increased arrests for organized crime surrounding drugs and guns."

    In March, a new state law took effect prohibiting the City from enforcing our gun laws, such as those prohibiting weapons on school property, prohibiting a minor from possessing a firearm and the possession and sale of assault weapons. By enforcing its law, the State has crippled us in the fight against violent crime.

These two paragraphs are so full of contradictions, I'll need to take them one at a time:

  • Jackson blames "Increased availability of guns on our City streets" on his watch for the increase in homicides. But he gives no details on how many of the guns being used in these crimes were black market guns, which would provide insight as to whether or not still more gun control laws would make a difference to people who don't care about laws.
  • Jackson credits "increased arrests for organized crime surrounding drugs and guns" for the increase in homicide arrests on his watch. Yet in the very next paragraph he claims that the state has tied his hands when it comes to prosecuting gun crimes.
  • Jackson blames "a new state law...prohibiting the City from enforcing our gun laws, such as those prohibiting weapons on school property..." for the increase in homicides on his watch. Yet earlier in his press release, he takes credit for a reduction in crime at schools, noting that "the number of criminal, school-related incidents decreased in 2006-2007 by approximately 13% (compared to 2005-2006)."
  • Jackson blames "a new state law...prohibiting the City from enforcing our gun laws, such as those prohibiting...a minor from possessing a firearm" for the increase in homicides on his watch. Yet Jackson provides no explanation for how this could be restricting his ability to prosecute minor possession of firearms, since state and federal laws regarding minor possession of a firearm are still firmly in place.
  • Jackson blames "a new state law...prohibiting the City from enforcing our gun laws, such as those prohibiting...possession and sale of assault weapons" for the increase in homicides on his watch. Yet he provides no data as to how many persons were ever prosecuted under the city's assault weapons ban when it was in effect (likely ZERO).

    Nowhere in the press release does Jackson explain how any of the gun control laws he laments losing would have affected even one of the homicides that have occurred in his city since the law took effect in March.

    Mayor Jackson doesn't stop here. Attached to the press release is "A summary of the City of Cleveland’s plan to improve safety on City streets" - a time line on how he claims to have worked to reduce crime. The summary specifically mentions his wasting of tax-payer resources in a go-it-alone court challenge over HB347.

    One thing is clear from this press release, however: It now appears that the mayor recognizes that he is prohibited from enforcing these useless laws, which is a staunch departure from his attitude following implementation of the Statewide Preemption. In March, Mayor Jackson actually ordered local law enforcement to violate state law and to continue to enforce the local gun control laws, something the President of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association nicely informed him they refused to do.

    Related Story:
    Misguided mayors need to look to Castle Doctrine laws to curb crime

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