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Government & Politics

Akron City Council passes resolution condemning Buffalo mass shooting and calls for tighter gun laws

Councilman Russ Neal speaks at city council meeting
Akron City Council
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Ward 4 Councilman Russ Neal (standing) addresses Akron City Council in its meeting on Monday, May 16, 2022 and calls for a plan to address gun violence in the city, in light of a mass shooting in Buffalo in which 10 people were killed.

Akron City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday night condemning the mass shooting in Buffalo over the weekend in which 10 people were killed.

The resolution, sponsored by Mayor Dan Horrigan and Council Vice President Jeff Fusco, called the shooting a white supremacist terrorist attack and expressed condolences.

During council's regular meeting Monday night, council members called on state and federal lawmakers to pass tighter gun laws.

“Whenever it comes to something being done, reasonably, in terms of gun control, nothing’s done. There’s no courage in the statehouse or at the federal level,” Fusco said. “Something reasonable, that can maybe save some lives – it’s just not done.”

The document will be sent to Gov. Mike DeWine and Akron's elected officials in the state and federal legislatures to show the city's support for gun restrictions, according to the resolution.

Ward 4 Councilman Russ Neal added that more work needs to be done to prevent what he calls senseless gun violence at the local level in Akron. He called on council members to come up with a plan to address gun violence going into the summer.

“Right here in the city, we have [American Rescue Plan Act] dollars that have come in, and we have gun violence every week,” Neal said. “In the past week, I’ve had a young man shot and killed in my ward; two other folks shot on the street. We’ve been talking about gun violence down here for the longest, but we do not have a collective plan.”

Neal, who represents Akron’s west side, said crime increases during the summer when kids are out of school. He wants council to use ARPA funds to support community organizations that provide enrichment activities for youth.

“We can be proactive by providing opportunities for our youth so that they don’t get caught up in it,” Neal said.

Council President Margo Sommerville, who represents Ward 3, wants council members to meet with the city’s violence prevention coordinator, who is tasked with developing a strategy to address gun violence particularly with the city’s youth.

“What we are going to do … is to have him come, so this body can be intentional in terms of working and supporting him and the work that he is working hard to do,” Sommerville said.

At-Large Councilwoman Linda Omobien said council also needs to focus on condemning and preventing hate speech and racism. Authorities in Buffalo have said the 18-year-old shooter was motivated by racial hatred.

“It’s true that we need to do something about the guns, because there’s still too many on the streets, and no one needs the kind of gun that child had, but when we talk about an 18-year-old kid who had the audacity to go to another community 200 miles away from his neighborhood to do something like this, there’s something wrong with a picture like that,” she said. “We all have to take responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen in our respective communities.”