LIMA — Local law enforcement officers are taking a play out of the playbook of the Ohio Attorney General in the fight against gun violence. They're going to target criminals who use guns in crimes, instead of pushing legislation that affect law-abiding citizens.
Local police leaders and Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish announced a program Friday that not only targets criminals who commit crimes with guns but offers money for tipsters who help officers find the guns used in crimes.
Citizens providing anonymous tips to the Lima/Allen County Crime Stoppers at 419-229-STOP (7867) can earn a reward up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in a crime. The pot is sweetened by $200 in gun crimes if information leads to authorities recovering a gun, said Timothy Garlock, the program coordinator for Crime Stoppers.
“This program is, in no way, an infringement on the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” Garlock said.
The program also is not a gun buyback program or a gun bounty program, he said.
Guns found will be stored as evidence until the criminal cases are over and then either turned in, if in good condition, for money to purchase other equipment or destroyed.
The vast majority of guns are in poor condition and destroyed through a court order, Garlock said.
“By removing illegal guns from the streets, the goal is to prevent gun violence,” Lima Police Maj. Tony Swygart said.
The idea for the program came from a Lima police officer assigned to a federal gun crime task force who learned about similar measure on the federal level, Garlock said.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a program last week to double prison sentences for repeat offenders who use guns in crimes. DeWine said his focus is on the small number of people in the state who commit the vast majority of the violent crime.
DeWine said it makes more sense to go after those who commit the crimes. The legislation will not affect law-abiding gun owners.
The legislation is different than the proposals on the federal level that failed to earn enough votes in the Senate to move forward. Federal lawmakers and President Obama pushed for a universal background check program, a ban on many semi-automatic rifles, and a magazine capacity limit of 10 rounds.
The programs have been heavily debated and criticized for affecting law-biding citizens while questions persist whether the proposals would have any effect on gun crimes or mass shootings such as the one at a Connecticut school last year that gave lawmakers the chance to introduce the pre-drafted legislation.