Mayors and Police Chiefs Press For Reform, Say Gun Violence Hurting Communities
September 19, 2019
Group urges lawmakers to come together around gun violence prevention
Columbus, OH – A bipartisan group of mayors, several police chiefs from around Ohio, and mass-shooting survivor Whitney Austin gathered in Columbus today to discuss the devastating impacts of gun violence and to press lawmakers on the urgent need for reform. The group spent the day meeting with legislative leaders and building support for legislative action, including Gov. Mike DeWine’s STRONG Ohio plan to reduce gun violence.
Following the tragic mass shooting in Dayton on Aug. 4, that killed 9 people and injured dozens more, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has called for action in the wake of tragedy. “Ohioans in Dayton and across the state want their elected officials to ‘Do Something’ to address gun violence,” said Whaley. “Now is the time to answer that call and get dangerous weapons out the hands of dangerous people.”
Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, and several other chiefs, joined the mayors at the Ohio Statehouse. “Our law enforcement professionals do everything we ask of them to protect our communities, often with extraordinary valor and bravery,” said Biehl. “Today, we’re asking state lawmakers to mirror that courage by doing what is essential to help keep our communities safe and our officers out of the line of fire.”
The Ohio Mayors Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of mayors in Ohio’s largest cities. Within the group, both Republican and Democratic mayors have voiced support for reform. “The tragedy that happened in Dayton was felt throughout the entire Miami Valley region,” said Kettering Mayor Don Patterson. “The legislature must put aside their differences and come together to support Gov. DeWine’s initiatives to help reduce gun violence.”
Almost exactly one year before the Dayton tragedy, Cincinnati also experienced a mass shooting when three people were murdered in the Fifth Third Building on Fountain Square. “We must put protecting the lives of innocent Ohioans ahead of partisan ideology,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “Expanded background checks and extreme risk protection orders are meaningful steps that will save lives and keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”
“I am an NRA member and a gun owner, but we must take meaningful steps to prevent tragedies like the Dayton shooting from happening in other communities,” said Lancaster Mayor David Scheffler. Lancaster Police Chief Adam Pillar also joined the mayors. Scheffler also noted that gun violence can take many forms, including suicide, which is one of the leading causes of gun deaths in Ohio.
“Guns are too easy to access, especially by people who should not be able to,” said Columbus Mayor J. Andrew Ginther who was joined by Interim Police Chief Thomas Quinlan. “By significantly improving the background check system and giving law enforcement a tool to intervene if someone with dangerous weapons is showing signs of homicidal behavior, we can save lives and prevent the next tragedy before it happens.”
Middletown Mayor Lawrence Mulligan, Jr. invited his Acting Police Chief Scott Reeves to participate in the meetings with lawmakers to ensure that the perspectives of mayors and chiefs play an important role in the legislative discussion. “Mayors and police chiefs are on the front lines and have a unique understanding of how gun violence impacts communities,” said Mulligan. “When there is a shooting, the chief and the mayor get a call and we see firsthand the devastating impacts that gun violence is having on our residents.”
Mayor Cranley was also joined by Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac and Whitney Austin who was shot 12 times but miraculously survived the mass shooting in the downtown Cincinnati in 2018. “I go back to that horrific moment and what it felt like on September 6th where I was clinging to life and trying to get back to my family,” Austin said. “I know what that feels like and I don’t want anybody else to feel that way.”
Also participating in the press conference and legislative meetings were Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown and Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees, Lima Mayor David Berger and Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin, as well as Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland.