CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cleveland officials spoke on Tuesday after a notable increase in violent crime across the city and the country.

Mayor Justin Bibb, Interim Chief of Police Wayne Drummond, Safety Director Karrie D. Howard and EMS Commissioner Nicole A. Carlton took part in the media briefing.

Bibb said there have been 61 gun-related homicides to date this year and the victims included ages 3 to 101.

The CDC recently said that gun violence is the leading cause of death in children in the nation.

“I feel paralyzed and handcuffed by the lack of real comprehensive gun legislation in Congress,” Bibb said. “And the fact that we have a state that doesn’t give me as mayor the tools I need to combat the illegal traffic of guns that plague our city day in and day out.”

In spite of that, Bibb is optimistic about the recent grant signed by the governor.

“Just yesterday, Gov. DeWine announced a $1.7 million grant to support our efforts to crack down on violence in our city,” Bibb said.

He says the city will use the funds to help draw the city’s youth away from gangs and to expand the amount of violent reduction teams.

“We are also working with local and federal partners to truly adopt an of government approach across the city of Cleveland to prevent crime before it starts. Programs like midnight basketball, and the Ten Point Coalition works with faith leaders to address violent crime. We’ve been also working closely with Youth Opportunities Unlimited and CMSD to make sure young people have productive things to do this summer once school ends.”

Drummond says it’s important for officers to get out into the community and engage with the residents.

Bibb urged citizens to plead with their elected officials to push for gun control, background checks, and lifting the age of anyone able to purchase a gun

Bibb made this statement on Monday voicing his safety concerns regarding HB 99, the legislation that would train teachers and staff to go armed within a school safety zone.:

“The safety of students, teachers and our community is my first priority. The passage of HB 99 is an extremely dangerous approach to addressing school safety. Allowing firearms into school safety zones is irresponsible and places everyone at risk. Our children deserve to learn in a safe environment, and we need to do everything in our power to keep weapons out of the classroom.  

We will continue to work in partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education to ensure this is the case for CMSD students. I urge every school system in the city of Cleveland and every community across the region and state to continue bans against weapons in schools. The safety and well-being of our children depend on it.”

Governor DeWine is expected to sign House Bill 99 into law. It would require up to 24 hours of initial firearm training and eight hours of training every year after.