Revamp of Cleveland gun laws approved by city council

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CLEVELAND  – A total revamp of Cleveland’s gun laws is heading to the mayor’s desk for a signature.  City Council approved the overhaul Monday night. Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration introduced the ordinance months ago.

The law will require convicted gun offenders to register an address with the city. Private gun sales and lost or stolen guns need to be reported, too.

“If I thought for one moment that this piece of legislation would somehow have an adverse effect upon those of us that are law-abiding firearm owners, I would not support it,” Councilman Mike Polensek said Monday.

Most of the ordinance mirrors state gun laws, but the local ordinance allows Cleveland Police to add misdemeanor charges and collect fines. Mayor Jackson said it makes a statement, after courts ruled that local cities, including Cleveland, can’t supersede state gun laws.

“It really sends the message: we’re not helpless in this, we can do something,” Jackson said.

Only one councilperson, Zack Reed, voted against the gun law, but many agreed dealing with guns doesn’t address the larger issue of violence in the city.

“While we’re bleeding because of gun shots, we say let me give you a flu shot,” Reed said, adding more police officers are needed.

Gun rights groups, including the Buckeye Firearms Association, opposed the law. Its president, Jim Irvine, said the state already has sufficient gun laws on the books, and Cleveland should focus its resources on improving gun safety education.

Jackson said law enforcement initiatives, such as police gun buy backs, along with health efforts and recreational center programming, all aim to curb violence.

“It’s a holistic approach, but there’s no panacea. It’s hard work,” Jackson said. “We have to do things along with legislation like we’ve passed to address violence and what causes violence.”

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