Update: Cleveland passes gun offender registry ordinance

The Cleveland City Council on Monday approved an ordinance which will allow the city to create a gun registry similar to those used to track sex offenders. Those firearms offenders living within the Ohio city’s limits will be required to register their place of residence and other personal information.

After several hours of deliberation, the finance committee approved the measure Monday afternoon, The Plain Dealer reported during a live blogging session. 

Mayor Frank Jackson said the law will help to prevent criminals from accessing guns, The Plain Dealer reported.

Councilman Zack Reed disagreed, pointing to Chicago’s registration program, which it dissolved in 2013, according to a New York Times article published at the time.    

Under the registry scheme, recently released inmates who take up residence in Cleveland will have five days to register, as would offenders who move there from outside its borders.

Along with the offender’s home address, the registry will also include fingerprints, name and aliases used, date of birth, sex, home or mobile phone number regularly used, photo identification card, description of the gun offense, employer information and the name of any educational institutions the offender attends, according to the 30-page ordinance.      

The ordinance charges the director of public safety with maintaining the directory and sharing registration information with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, but it is unclear whether the information will be made public.

The decision came after almost 11 hours of discussion and testimony from opponents and proponents of the ordinance over a several-month period. The council held four public hearings on the legislation, which was introduced in July. Jackson – a member of gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns – also testified in favor of the legislation at the body’s September meeting.

In December 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court in a 5-2 decision upheld the state’s law barring municipalities from passing preemptive ordinances.

The National Rifle Association did not comment on the ordinance’s passing  by article publication, but Chris Cox, head of the group’s lobby arm, praised the court’s ruling at the time.

“If Cleveland, or any other city, wants to crack down on violence, city leaders there should focus on prosecuting criminals, not enacting new gun laws that only serve to restrict law-abiding citizens.”       

City officials argued the new ordinance would mirror state law and allow Cleveland to collect fines in connection with the registry, rather than have the money go into state coffers.