By Okon Ekpenyong
Within the past two weeks, Columbus City Officials, local law enforcement agencies, and community leaders have met with the Director of US Marshall and ATF to discuss ways of combating the ongoing gun violence in the city and keeping firearms off the street.
ATF director Steven Dettleback met with city officials at the Michael B. Coleman Government Center on Thursday to address the issue of gun violence in Columbus and help keep firearms off city neighborhood streets. The Director of US Marshall, Ronald L Davis, met with city leaders on Friday, January 20, with community members and local law enforcement agencies to form a partnership to reduce crime in city neighborhoods.
Furthermore, the city will spend $5 million on the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) Program, administered by ATF, which helps capture and compare ballistic evidence to solve violent firearm-related crimes and prevent them. Various state and local law enforcement agencies use ATF equipment in their crime lab units. “The equipment automates ballistics evaluation and provides actionable investigative leads in a timely fashion,” ATF Director reiterated.
“When you put Nibin and Etrace together, and other technology we have in social media, in DNA, it can help law enforcement to identify patterns and firearms in crime,” ATF Director said.
In December 2022, Columbus officials proposed a ban on magazines with more than thirty rounds of ammunition to combat gun violence. Gun owners must store their weapons safely in a place that is out of reach for minors because prevention is better than cure. The proposal also carries local penalties for illegal sales of firearms; however, republican lawmakers want to stop such measures stating that it is against State law.
“While possessing a gun and having a domestic violence conviction under federal law is illegal, there is no such prohibition under Ohio law,” City Attorney said.
Mayor Andrew Ginther, City Attorney Zach Klein, Public Safety Director Robert Clark, Assistant Police Chief LaShanna Potts, and US Attorney Kenneth Parker thanked Dettleback and his agency for offering additional support to prevent another deadly year, a national problem. The Mayor also calls on “parents, caregivers, pastors, teachers, mentors, and neighbors to play an active role.”
Mayor also reiterated that devoting more resources and informing the general public on how the new initiative is progressing is the reason for the briefing.
Assistant Police Chief LaShanna Potts & City Attorney Zach Klein reiterate that approximately 90% of homicides in 2022 involved firearms, and some people got them off the streets. “So far this year, the department has seized over sixty guns. In 2022, they seized 3,356 illegal firearms, nearly nine per day,” Assistant Police Chief LaShanna Potts said.
“These efforts focus on illegal firearms in the hands of people who should not carry them, like the two fourteen years old recently arrested for murder. “I want to reiterate that this is not about legal, responsible gun owners. We respect constitutional rights,” Columbus Public Safety Director Robert W. Clark said.
Moreover, the City Attorney’s department has proposed setting aside approximately $250,000 in additional funds for hiring two special US District Attorneys to oversee and prosecute those responsible for selling illegal firearms.
Part of the capital budget will help ATF and other law enforcement agencies to create a regional crime gun intelligence center to address gun crimes further using a broader approach,” ATF Director and City officials said.
While numerous resources, collaborations, and expertise are available to help the city combat this issue, the director of Public Safety stresses that community involvement is vital for the mission’s success.
“One out of three firearms used in crimes, it is less than a year from the date of purchase to the date it is used to commit a crime,” ATF Director Dettleback said.
Director Dettleback is an Ohio native and was previously a candidate for the Ohio State Auditor, but lost to Republican Dave Yost in the general election of November 2018. From 2009 to 2016, he served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and was appointed by President Obama to this position.
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