CLEVELAND — On Tuesday, Cleveland Mayor Justin M. Bibb held a press conference on Tuesday to address gun violence in the city. But while Bibb said that the city is examining measures that can be taken to increase gun safety, he called on Congress to pass common-sense gun laws following a series of mass shootings across the country in recent weeks.
"I want to close by saying this: It's madness right now that a majority of Americans support background checks, red flag laws, raising the age in this country to buy a gun to 21," Bibb said. "I'm encouraging everybody in the city to call their member of Congress and I'm pleading with Congress to take real action, particularly in the U.S. Senate to pass some form of gun legislation. As Mayor, I don't have the luxury of passing the buck to the next legislative session. Congress needs to act and every person in this city and this state should plead with their member of Congress to take action now."
Also appearing at the press conference, Interim Chief of Police Dornat “Wayne” Drummond revealed that Cleveland has seen 495 people shot and 61 homicides to this point in the year. 52 of the 61 homicides involved a firearm. The city notes that rates of violence have increased in Cleveland during the pandemic, recording a 30-year high with 179 homicides in 2020 and a 39% rise compared to pre-pandemic levels with 169 homicides in 2021.
At one point during the press conference, Drummond became visibly emotional as he discussed a 10-year-old boy who was killed in an accidental shooting on Sunday night when his aunt allegedly fired a gun from the first floor of a house, with the bullet striking him in the head while he was playing on the second floor.
Tuesday's briefing came on the heels of the Cleveland Division of Police being awarded nearly $1.75 million from The Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grants Program to target gang violence and solve gun crimes.
“Violence and gun crime is on rise and my number one priority is to ensure residents feel safe in their neighborhoods. This funding boost equips the police department with the technology and resources they need to quickly respond and investigate violent crime and helps keep young people on track,” said Bibb.
The city says the new funding will add five more violence interrupters in each of Cleveland’s police districts to connect youth with opportunities to participate in sports and recreation programs, including midnight basketball or provide referrals to mental health and other wrap-around support services. The money will also allow for the purchase of a National Integrated Ballistics Network (NIBIN) machine to analyze bullets and casings, plus expand Cleveland's Violent Crime Reduction Teams to target violence in hotspots.
You can watch Mayor Bibb's full press conference in the video player below.
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