Cleveland officials lie to newspaper: Still enforcing illegal gun control laws

In a recent Cleveland Plain Dealer story entitled "Clevelanders register their guns, but don't have to", officials claimed that they are no longer enforcing the city's illegal gun control laws.

They lied.

Cleveland officials said they have always enforced state laws, even those that conflict with city ordinances, after the state passed a law last year that revised portions of the concealed-carry law and implemented one set of gun rules statewide, nullifying local firearms ordinances.

For example, the city no longer requires people to register their handguns with City Hall. But some people continue to do so, and the city willingly takes down their information, said Lt. Thomas Stacho, a police spokesman.

When Ohio's statewide preemption of local gun control laws (HB347) took effect in March, 2007, the City of Cleveland immediately filed a lawsuit against the state. City leaders argue that gun control is a "home rule" issue.

But last month, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that local governments cannot pass ordinances that conflict with the state gun law.

At the time the City filed its lawsuit, a Plain Dealer story said Mayor Frank Jackson ordered police to enforce city ordinances despite the law relaxing parts of Ohio's concealed-carry law.

The newspaper now quotes Stacho as alleging he was misquoted.

"I do not speak for Mayor Jackson, and no such order was given to the Division of Police by the mayor or anyone in a position to do so," Stacho said in an e-mail statement to the newspaper. The Plain Dealer stands by its story.

The police are enforcing state gun laws, said Andrea Taylor, spokeswoman for Jackson.

"We are also enforcing our local gun ordinances that are not in conflict with any state law," Taylor said.

But the fact is, the City of Cleveland is ALSO still trying to enforce its illegal local ordinances, including registration. As we recently reported, attorney Ken Hanson was recently forced to file a motion to dismiss in a case where they charged a concealed carry licensee with possession of an unregistered handgun.

The Damon Wells in Hanson's motion is the same Damon Wells who had to fight to get his gun back after a self-defense shooting, eventually getting a court order from the Cleveland Common Pleas Court to return Damon’s gun to him. Now, a year later, they are criminally pursuing charges against him for no wrong other than having an unregistered handgun, which under HB347 hasn’t been required to be registered for over 18 months.

It is outrageous that Cleveland, which knows the ordinances are unenforceable, is placing people in criminal jeopardy and forcing them to incur time and expense defending these illegal criminal charges. And only slightly less outrageous that they are lying to the media about it.

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

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

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