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Columbus mayor declares gun violence a public health crisis amid rising homicides

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The mayor of Columbus, Ohio, declared gun violence a public health crisis on Tuesday, after he said the city set a record number of homicides for the second year in a row.

Mayor Andrew Ginther said the city had 180 homicides in 2020 and 204 homicides in 2021. Of the homicides that occurred last year, 91% involved the use of a firearm, he said.

"We are less than, as a community, because of gun violence," Andrew Ginther said at a press conference. "This issue is plaguing our city to a staggering degree."

"We will not wait for the state house and congress to act," Ginther said.

Ginther also criticized U.S. lawmakers for their lack of action to mitigate gun violence.

"Unfortunately the state and federal levels of governments have not made it easy or in many cases have made it almost impossible to take the sort of action that this moment requires," he said.

"Laws passed in the state house and congress as well as legal decisions handed down by the courts have severely limited our ability to move the needle on gun violence. And just as destructive as these laws can be, inaction is equally infuriating," Ginther said.

Guns have been flowing in and out of the city despite Columbus not manufacturing guns, Ginther said, citing statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

More than 2,700 guns were recovered in Columbus in 2020, the agency said last year. The city beat out Cincinnati's 2,284 firearms recovered and Cleveland's 1,693 firearms recovered.

The mayor said he will be forming the "Columbus Alliance Against Illegal Guns," a coalition of residents, community leaders, faith leaders and medical professionals to "demand common sense gun reform from the state house and congress."

"The best way to fight back against the illegal guns is to bring the entire community together," Ginther said.

The group will be looking into what new solutions other communities have been designing and implementing at the local level to reduce gun violence and restore community safety, he said.

Ginther also said he wants Columbus to join the U.S. Justice Department’s firearms trafficking strike forces. The coalition launched in July includes New York City, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

The group was formed last year "to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions across the country," according to the Department of Justice.

"We are asking the president and the attorney general to expand that list and include the City of Columbus," Ginther said.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein also spoke at the press conference, calling out a Republican blockade that is preventing cities and individuals from "doing anything to prevent gun violence."

Robert R. Cupp, speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, and a representative for the Ohio Republican Party did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

 

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