Columbus Mayor Vows To Reduce Number of Illegal Guns

Columbus police and city officials say they’ll boost efforts to combat the scourge of violent crime in the city. Using a display of recently confiscated guns as a backdrop, the city’s top elected official vowed to reduce the number of illegal weapons on the street.

Columbus mayor Michael Coleman says there are too many guns on city streets. “It is incredible, the amount of guns that are in our street, enough to arm an army, of criminals.” Says Coleman. Coleman stood amid 10 cafeteria-style tables at the police property room on Fairwood Avenue to make his point. The tables were filled with what he called “crime guns,” everything from Saturday night specials to automatic pistols, some with silencers, to A-K 47 assault rifles. Columbus Police Lieutenant, Charles Chapman, says each of the guns represents a crime or a crime prevented. “They’ve come in from domestic violence cases. We’ve got them from people driving in cars with guns in their cars, they get stopped. We’ve got them off of juveniles. There are guns here that we’ve also got from street gang fights. The majority of the firearms are low-end type firearms, they’re not the expensive type, but they’re as deadly as anything you can see on the street.” Says Lieutenant Chapman.

Mayor Coleman says the city is going to beef up its offense against gun wielding criminals. He’ll ask for council approval to apply for $130,000 in federal money to allow five Columbus officers to work fulltime with federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents. And, Coleman vows that some criminals will face federal gun charges in an effort to keep them behind bars for longer periods of time. “Federal charges are the hammers on guns and crime to put criminals in prison for the longest possible time, the longest possible sentence.” Says Coleman.

So far, in 2006, city police have confiscated nearly 24-hundred illegal weapons. One thousand of the weapons will be destroyed tomorrow

Tom Borgerding WOSU News.