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Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb holds virtual conversation with Ohio mayors and police chiefs on gun violence

Bibb and other state leaders voiced their concerns about Ohio’s two latest gun policies – House Bill 99 and Senate Bill 215.

CLEVELAND — Mayors and leaders in law enforcement from across the state of Ohio hosted a virtual press conference Monday afternoon calling on common sense gun laws and to voice their concerns about Ohio’s two latest gun policies – House Bill 99 and Senate Bill 215.

The mayors of Cleveland, Columbus Akron, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Dayton were present on the call, as well as the police chiefs from Cleveland and Columbus, and the deputy chief from Akron.

House Bill 99, which Gov. Mike DeWine announced he signed Monday morning, allows school districts to determine if they want staff to be armed, and appropriates six million dollars to expand the Ohio School Safety Center.

RELATED: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs bill allowing school employees to be armed

Those who will be armed must undergo up to 24 hours of school specific training, a criminal background check, and up to eight hours of requalification training annually. The governor said he has directed the Ohio School Safety Center to require all of those hours.

Senate Bill 215, which went into effect Monday, allows legal gun owners to carry a concealed firearm without a permit or training, and does not require legal gun owners to tell police they have a gun in the car during traffic stops unless explicitly asked.

RELATED: New permitless conceal carry gun law takes effect in Ohio

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb said in light of these two bills, the city is preparing for two “dangerous” gun laws, which he said “unequivocally make our city and our residents less safe.”

“We are taking a public health perspective to address the leading causes of gun violence that plague our city day in and day out,” Bibb said. “With mayors on this call and also with other mayors across the state, we intend to form a cross jurisdictional task force to look at other ways we can truly keep our city safe despite these dangerous gun laws being passed in Columbus.”

Interim police chief Wayne Drummond said that in response, officers will be required to ask individuals if they are armed. He also acknowledged that traffic stops can be one of the most dangerous things you do as a police officer.

“Traffic stops themselves are pretty dangerous, or they can be, and taking that provision of the law that requires individuals to notify law enforcement officers as you approach a vehicle that they’re armed, I think poses problems or potential problems,” said Drummond.

Deputy police chief Brian Harding with the Akron Police Department said he believes residents and police officers in his community are now “less safe” with Senate Bill 215.

“We now are allowing people that are 21 years old and have no training to walk around with a loaded firearm,” Harding said. “That’s concerning to us in law enforcement.”

Mayors and leaders in law enforcement leaders also voiced concerns over House Bill 99, allowing school staff to be armed.

“I think it’s a horrible idea to arm our teachers,” said Columbus police chief Elaine Bryant. She also said we already ask a lot of teachers and they should focus on teaching, and said there’s a lot of training involved in being armed.  

“We’ve worked for years trying to keep guns out of schools, now we’re just putting additional guns in schools,” said Harding. "If unfortunately there is a horrible incident, now not only do we have to worry about who may be the person armed in the middle of this, but also now, who are teachers, who's the perpetrator of the crime, those are additional things that are going to be extreme challenges for law enforcement in general and I just think it’s a bad idea.”

You can watch a portion of Monday's briefing in the player below:

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