COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and other city leaders talked in a press conference Tuesday afternoon with an update on efforts to reduce gun violence in Columbus.
Joining Ginther was city attorney Zach Klein, city council president Shannon Hardin, CPD police chief Elaine Bryant, and the city’s health commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts.
Ginther said 1,500 illegal guns have been taken off the street in 2022 thus far. He also added that homicides in Columbus were down 40 percent in 2022 compared to 2021 with more cases being closed.
“We want to be the safest big city in America,” Ginther said. “We’re not that today, period. But we have seen a 40 percent reduction in homicides, felonious assaults are down, our closure rates are up.”
Guns taken by city law enforcement were on display at the press event with Ginther stating the weapons there represent just 10 percent of those illegal guns.
“It’s jaw-dropping,” said Malissa Thomas St. Clair, founder of the support group Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children. “I look at how many mothers, whether vocal or not, in our organization and knowing that about 98 percent of our mothers have their child lost to a gun.”
After two years in a row of record-breaking deadly violence in the city, numbers are down this year, but Ginther said they aren’t good enough.
“We won’t rest but we’re seeing some signs this comprehensive approach is starting to show some positive signs,” he said.
Another statistic Ginther mentioned was in 2020, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) recovered more than 2,700 firearms that can be traced back to Columbus.
“We need our leaders at the statehouse to do better,” said Ginther. “If they refuse to move on gun violence in a thoughtful and serious way, then they at least need to get out of our way so we as a local city can do the things we know we need to do: Ban assault weapons, uniform backgrounds checks, red flag laws.”
City attorney Zach Klein announced that his office will send two Columbus city attorneys to serve as special assistant United States attorneys in prosecuting gun violence offenders in the city.
“Our officers are using every tool at their disposal to make their community safer,” Bryant said. “The stakes could not be higher. Every life lost to gun violence is a tragedy.”
According to Bryant, the division got to use a mobile version of an ATF information network for ballistic evidence, which she said helped develop 1,100 leads, connect different shootings, solve cases, and identify suspects. She’s hopeful technology will continue to help.
“Ideally, we would love to eradicate all crime,” she said. “We’re going to do everything we can to lower those numbers as much as possible, but any time one mother loses her child, none of that matters. So he’s right, it’s never going to be good enough and we’re going to continue to work as hard as we can to bring those numbers as low as possible.”
You can watch the full press conference in the video player below.