Cleveland Mayor Tries to Blame Shooting on Constitutional Carry, but Council Member isn’t Having it

Police in Cleveland still don’t have anyone in custody after a shooting on Saturday night left nine people injured, but Mayor Justin Bibb thinks he knows who’s to blame: lawmakers who approved Ohio’s Constitutional Carry law last year.

Speaking on Sunday, Bibb faulted SB 215 for the shooting, claiming that since the law’s passage in 2022 there’s been an increase in shootings; not only in Cleveland but Columbus and Cincinnati as well. There’s just one problem with Bibb’s assertions: they’re wrong.

Crime analyst Jeff Asher recently published a list of 100 big cities and the number of homicides recorded so far this year, comparing it to data from 2022. His research shows that homicides are actually dropping in several Ohio cities… just not Cleveland.

  • Akron – 12.5% decline through May 31st
  • Cincinnati – 22.22% decline through July 3rd
  • Cleveland – 33.85% increase through June 24th
  • Columbus – 21.21% increase through July 5th
  • Toledo – 33.33% decline through June 28th

If permitless carry were to blame, we’d expect to see a rise in crime across the state. Instead, the data shows the increase isn’t happening uniformly, and some cities are seeing plunging homicide rates at the same time murders are spiking in Cleveland and Columbus.

Thankfully, there’s at least one member of the Cleveland City Council willing to call Bibb out for his B.S. Councilman Michael Polensek sent the mayor and other council members a scathing email on Sunday afternoon after a rolling gun battle took place in the city’s Collingwood neighborhood, blasting Bibb for a lack of urgency in addressing the crime spike and challenging him to go after the actual perpetrators of these crimes.

“I don’t care if you have to bring in the 82nd Airborne,” Polensek wrote in the searing email, which he peppered with a couple of expletives. He copied fellow council members and other city leaders, including Safety Director Karrie Howard, Ohio Sen. Nickie Antonio and Ohio Rep. Terrence Upchurch.
During the clash, gang members carved the streets in stolen cars, spraying bullets that flew near children playing and families cooking out, Polensek wrote. The skirmish originated at Mark Tromba Playground and flowed down four separate streets, he said.
Police recovered at least 60 shell casings, including one dislodged in front of Polensek’s late mother-in-law’s house, he said.
… The Collinwood shooting came on the heels of a mass shooting early Sunday morning in the downtown warehouse district. Police say the gunman fired bullets into a crowd outside of a nightclub at about 2:30 in the morning, then fled. Police have not identified a suspect.
Polensek argues that city officials should prioritize arresting suspects in the short term over longer-term violence prevention strategies.
If crime patterns continue, he warned, Bibb will face political backlash.
“You are now in quicksand whether you know it or not my friend,” Polensek said in his letter.
“I am as serious as a fricken heart attack,” he added.

Oh, I’m pretty sure Bibb is aware, which would explain why he went searching for a scapegoat and settled on Constitutional Carry as the supposed ill that’s behind the city’s crime spike. The mayor responded, at least indirectly, to Polensek’s missive on Monday by talking with the local paper.

Bibb told The Plain Dealer’s editorial board Monday that he has put a major emphasis on violence prevention, committing millions of dollars to establish a long-term fund to address root causes of criminal behavior. Separately, he is launching a number of strategies to find and retain more police officers, as some believe a shortage of officers has led to a jump in crime. One way, for instance, is offering those who sign on a cash bonus, something Polensek has pushed.
He called incentives “near term” solutions to help stem the losses from Cleveland’s shrinking police force. The department had 1,242 officers earlier this month; it had 1,600 in recent years.

Gee, might the fact that the city is short nearly 400 uniformed officers have something to do with the increased number of shootings and homicides in the city? Note that the mayor said he’s now “launching”, not “has launched” those strategies to add to the ranks of the Cleveland P.D. Sounds to me like the mayor knows exactly what kind of political quicksand he’s in, and now wants to talk tough on crime in addition to his pathetic attempts to shift the blame onto state lawmakers and lawful gun owners.

I have no idea if it will work from a political perspective, but I do hope that his newfound appreciation for policing will result in a drop in violent crime. But as long as Bibb sees legal gun owners as a bigger problem than violent criminals, I honestly don’t have much hope that things are gonna get better in Cleveland anytime soon.

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