Cleveland Mayor Jackson proposes new gun control law

By Chad D. Baus

In his continuing struggle 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), and seeking to justify his use of taxpayer resources on a go-it-alone court challenge of HB347, a new state law which preempts local gun control laws, Mayor Frank Jackson has launched another salvo in his effort to divert blame for his city's crime problems.

This time, the anti-gun Mayor is exploiting the death of a 12 year-old girl, pointing the finger toward Columbus and claiming state lawmakers are to blame for her death.

From the Associated Press:

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson wants state lawmakers to pass legislation prohibiting anyone under age 21 from possessing a firearm.

He made the proposal at a news conference today, following the death earlier this month of 12-year-old Asteve'e (a-STEE'-vuh) "Cookie" Thomas. She was hit by a stray bullet from a street gunfight as she walked to a corner store. One suspect is 20.

As is typical with this type of knee-jerk reactions, Jackson is proposing a "solution" that would not have prevented the "problem."

One of the suspects wanted for the girl's death is a violent 35 year-old felon who was only on the street because of repeated criminal justice system failures. The other, a 20-year-old, broke numerous existing laws in his alleged participation in the shootout.

For most people, these types of disparities would be a deterrent to exploiting a little girl's death for political gain - but not Mayor Frank Jackson. Indeed, as a related story from Cleveland's NewsNet5.com proves, Jackson is quite willing to shove aside the facts that get in his way:

The latest statistics released by the city show that a growing number of guns confiscated by police were taken from the hands of suspects under age 21, and now city leaders are demanding a change in the state gun law, reported NewsChannel5's Joe Pagonakis.

The evidence room at the Cleveland Police Department is overflowing with more than 19,000 weapons confiscated during a growing number of arrests.

Cleveland safety director Martin Flask blames a weak state law enacted last year, prohibiting major cities like Cleveland from using its own laws to control gun traffic.

In 2006, Cleveland police confiscated 1,173 guns, 1,045 of them hand guns, a 10 percent increase from the year before.

Of those guns, 22 percent were taken from suspects ages 18 to 21, and 9 percent were in the hands of juveniles.

While most officials would be hesitant to argue they were having difficulty enforcing the law at the same time they are releasing statisics proving arrests and confiscations are on the rise, Jackson and his bureaucratic flunkies show no shame.

Indeed, the same Press Release in which Mayor Jackson announced his legislative proposal highlights the bang up job they are doing arresting young people for gun crimes under existing law:

  • In each year of the three years, there is a statistically significant relationship between gun involvement and age of arrestees, with younger arrestees more likely to possess and use guns.
  • In each of the three years, more than 70% of the arrestees for crimes involving firearms were below the age of 28.
  • The percentage of arrests for firearms crimes increased in both 2005 and 2006.
  • Firearm arrestees are getting younger. The average age of a firearm arrestee was 4.722 years lower than the average age of all arrestees in 2006. In 2004, the average age a firearm arrestee was 3.341 years
  • lower than the average age of all arrestees.
  • Minors (persons under age 18) comprised 14-15% of total arrests in the three-year period.

It is an odd strategy indeed for Jackson's office to continue to cite arrest records (arrests made under existing laws!) as "proof" of a need for yet another gun control law, especially when his office continues to fein ignorance about the many existing laws addressing firearms and persons uder the age of 21.

FACTS CONCERNING FIREARMS POSSESSION IN OHIO BY PERSONS UNDER 21

------------> It is illegal, under 18 USC 299 b1, for a licensed firearms dealer to sell or deliver a handgun or its ammunition to a person under 21 years of age, or a shotgun or rifle or its ammunition to a person under 18 years of age.

------------> It is illegal, under Ohio Revised Code 2923.211, for a person under 18 years of age to purchase, or attempt to purchase, ANY firearm.

------------> It is illegal, under Ohio Revised Code 2923.211, for a person under 21 years of age to purchase, or attempt to purchase, a handgun*.

------------> It is illegal, under Ohio Revised Code 2923.21, for a grown-up to sell ANY firearm to a minor under 18, or to sell a handgun to a person under the age of 21*.

------------> It is illegal, under Ohio Revised Code 2923.21, for a grown-up to furnish any firearm to a person under 18 or, to furnish a handgun to a person who is under 21, except for lawful hunting, sporting, or educational purposes, including, but not limited to, instruction in firearms or handgun safety, care, handling, or marksmanship under the supervision or control of a responsible adult.

------------> It is illegal, under Ohio Revised Code 2923.21, for a grown-up to sell or furnish a firearm to a person who is 18 years or older if they have reason to believe that person will then sell the firearm to a person who is under age.

------------> It is illegal, under Ohio Revised Code 2923.21, for a grown-up to sell or furnish a handgun to a person who is 21 years or older if they have reason to believe that person will then sell the handgun to a person who is under age.

------------> It is illegal, under Ohio Revised Code 2923.21, for a grown-up to purchase a firearm with the intent of selling it to a person who is under 18 years of age.

------------> It is illegal, under Ohio Revised Code 2923.21, for a grown-up to purchase a handgun with the intent of selling it to a person who is under 21 years of age.

The bottom line is this: There is NO legal way for an underage person to gain possession of a firearm in Ohio.

We have laws prohibiting anyone from giving them a gun, and from selling them a gun. We have laws prohibiting them from buying a gun. And of course we have laws prohibiting them from doing anything illegal with the gun. If there is no legal way for them to buy the gun, and no legal way for a dealer to sell it to them, and no legal way for a grown-up to sell or furnish them the gun, then someone has violated a gun control law by giving it to them.

Furthermore, as Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair Ken Hanson notes, mere possession by a minor is currently a crime under our complicity statute. Any method they use to gain possession of the gun will violate federal or state law, and they have aided or abetted the act of illegally giving them possession by possessing it. So they are guilty of violating the statute itself under Ohio's complicity law.

"So even though we do not have a statute that says "Junior shalt not have a gun", we have no way to legally give Junior a gun, and Junior is guilty of complicity because someone illegally gave him the gun," observes Hanson. "He aided and abetted the act, because the illegal giver could not have broken the law without Junior's aid."

In his press release, Mayor Jackson states that “We need action now and we are asking for swift enactment of this legislation so that we can begin to take guns out of the hands of our children and make our community safer.”

"Anyone, including a child, can walk down a street with an assault rifle, a semiautomatic pistol or a shotgun," Jackson claimed. "And our Police Department has no ability to arrest them."

But Steve Loomis, Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association president, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that is not true, noting that officers faced with this situation could make an arrest for any number of crimes, including inducing panic.

From the Plain Dealer:

State Sen. Joy Padgett, a Coshocton Republican, echoed that opinion but went further in the criticism of the proposal.

"It's a good political statement to make," she said. "But it doesn't change the safety of our communities or our streets."

She said that the criminals who break existing laws are going to break new ones, too.

Padgett supported the bill in March that struck down local gun laws in Cleveland and other cities that were more restrictive than those of the state.

The city's law previously prohibited those 18 and under from possessing firearms. Cleveland is fighting the state law's reversal in court, but a resolution could be years away.

Assertions of some state of emergency caused by the preemption of Cleveland gun control laws by HB347 are patently absurd. Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim Irvine has made repeated calls to Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, and Cleveland police, and even questioned Mayor Jackson himself at a recent press conference. To date, no one has been able to provide even one case where they prosecuted and convicted a person under the now-preempted assault weapons ban that Jackson keeps crying about. As for underage possession, it is clear from the Mayor's own statistics that arrests and prosecutions are being carried out when underage persons obtain and commit crimes with firearms.

And so, once again, we are subjected to gun ban extremists demanding laws to address non-existent problems, and for which they cannot prove need.

The legislation, drafted by Cleveland's Department of Law, was submitted to Ohio's Legislative Service Commission, according to city officials. Its sponsors include State Representatives Timothy DeGeeter, Michael DeBose and Barbara Boyd.

* Exemptions exist for persons 18 and older who are properly employed as a law enforcement officer, having received firearms training approved by the Ohio peace officer training council or equivalent firearms training.

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

Go-it-alone: Financially-challenged City of Cleveland sues over preemption

Cleveland police union to NRANews: We won’t enforce illegal laws

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