The truth about Cleveland’s “Assault Weapon Ban” - Part I

Public records search proves now-defunct ban unused during Mayor Jackson's administration

by Jim Irvine

In big bold letters at the top of his September 10, 2007 press release, Mayor Jackson stated:

Mayor Frank Jackson Takes the Lead in the Fight to Curb Gun Violence in Cleveland and Throughout the State of Ohio

That would be great if it was true, but the Mayor is out of touch with his constituents, his police officers, and the law.

Through public records requests (an undertaking we challenged the Ohio media to perform more than 8 months ago), Buckeye Firearms Association has obtained the answer to a question that Mayor Jackson has been asked several times, but refused to answer. And now we know why.

Mayor Jackson has been crying about an Ohio law rendering Cleveland’s so-called assault weapons ban unenforceable since before it passed in late 2006 (HB347). He complains that he can no longer prosecute people for all those crimes, and that the loss of that tool has directly resulted in Cleveland’s increasing violent crime problem. He even stages press conferences behind a table of scary looking guns, implying that they had been confiscated through the now-defunct ban. For that to be true, there must be a significant drop in convictions related to those offenses. We have the proof - there is not.

Mayor Jackson took office in January 2006. According to the city of Cleveland, in all of 2006 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 enough evidence of a crime for the case to move forward to a trial.

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

Being unable to address the staggering unemployment problem they are facing, and having already admitted that Cleveland cannot even prosecute the criminals they currently have charged*, Mayor Jackson is attempting some slight of hand to divert attention from their very real crime problems, working to ignore the facts and rely on propaganda. Consider, for example, the conclusion to his latest press release on the subject:

This is Mayor Jackson’s second push at the state level to improve gun control in the state. The City of Cleveland is currently in court with the State of Ohio over the enactment of H.B. 347 which took effect earlier this year. That law, which allows for concealed carry of weapons with proper permitting, also stripped municipalities of their right to create and enforce gun control laws within their communities. Cleveland is continuing to fight the state in court because H.B. 347 violates Cleveland’s rights as a home rule municipality.

“The City of Cleveland simply cannot wait for this lawsuit to make its way through the court system,” said Mayor Jackson. “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.”

Even going back to 2005, we find 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 have nothing to do with Cleveland’s crime problem. Drastic reduction in the number of law enforcement officers is likely a significant part of the problem.

Recently, the city of Cleveland obtained a $5.9 million federal grant to study and track firearms used in crimes. I wonder what effect a group of good firearms instructors could accomplish by using that money to train and arm the citizens who live on the streets where the gangs and criminals rule the night. With that amount of money, we could arm a lot of good people who could then fight back against the thugs and win. I would guess that many would choose guns that were previously banned by the city of Cleveland for their personal defense.

If Mayor Jackson really wanted to “lead in the fight to curb gun violence” he would contact us for help with such a proposal. He would also be begging the legislature to pass Castle Doctrine legislation (SB184/HB264) and other improvements to Ohio’s successful concealed carry problem. I won’t hold my breath.

In the coming weeks we will look at how Cleveland used their “Assault Weapon Ban” to go easy on criminals.

*Cleveland Municipal Court previously announced they would be waiving bail for some 25,000 criminal defendants with outstanding warrant if the scofflaw would appear at a police station and turn in a gun. Each person who would turn in a gun under such a program was committing a felony for even possessing the gun.


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

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

HB354: More Gun Control Addressing Non-Existent Problems

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