How do criminals get illegal guns? The Wake Up for Friday, Sept. 15, 2023


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Cleveland could reach homicide figures this year higher than any year since the 1980s, when the city’s population was much greater.

With well over 100 homicides in 2023, several state and federal agencies have jumped in to help the city find the most violent offenders.

Over the past month, the Ohio Investigative Unit scouted bars for people carrying firearms illegally. The Ohio Adult Parole Authority checked to see whether violent ex-offenders were violating the terms of their release. U.S. marshals and Cleveland detectives arrested 13 homicide suspects. And the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested nearly 60 people accused of illegal gun dealing, a key cog in the violence.

How are those guns sold?

Gun traffickers generally get their guns from thieves, criminals looking to ditch a gun they used in a crime, or straw purchasers, and they message with customers, not unlike drug dealers.

Then they brazenly sell assault rifles and handguns that fire like automatic weapons to dangerous people, often in the daytime at businesses and parks.

Arresting the dealers helps reverse the rising tide of violence.

— Laura

Northeast Ohio weather forecast: Sunny start to weekend, but Sunday brings good chance of showers

Illegal gun sales: With increasing levels of violence, how are criminals getting the guns they use to spray bullets across the city? Adam Ferrise examines one case that crystalizes the answer: Illegal traffickers peddle firearms for a few hundred bucks a pop without a care if the guns will be used to maim or kill.

School report cards: Ohio on Thursday released the first school report cards since the pandemic that include overall grades. Districts receive points for five components based on their level of performance. Zachary Smith has the full state list of districts, plus individual schools and charter schools.

Transgender in the church: The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland’s new policy that bars gender expression has pushed the region into a growing debate among the nation’s Catholics over LGBTQ issues. Molly Walsh reports the move comes amid tensions over the issue in churches across the country, in line with the stances of the nation’s conservative bishops, but seemingly against recent statements by Pope Francis.

Today in Ohio: Ohio’s latest state legislative redistricting process stalled almost as soon as it started Wednesday, thanks to infighting among Statehouse Republicans over who will co-chair the redistricting commission. We’re talking about the dispute between House Speaker Jason Stephens and Senate President Matt Huffman — who wants to be the next House speaker — on Today in Ohio,’s daily half-hour news podcast.

Redistricting amendment: For a second time, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has rejected petition wording proposed by backers of an amendment to overhaul Ohio’s system of drawing state legislative and congressional maps. Andrew Tobias reports that Yost, a Republican, again said the wording submitted by Citizens Not Politicians was not a fair and truthful summary of what the proposal would do.

Redistricting commission: The Ohio Redistricting Commission’s work on new state legislative maps has been indefinitely delayed, thanks an ongoing standoff among legislative Republican leaders, Jeremy Pelzer reports. The dispute between House Speaker Jason Stephens and Senate President Matt Huffman, who are rivals for the speaker’s gavel in 2025, comes as the redistricting commission is already under a time crunch to pass new state legislative maps ahead of the 2024 election.

Voter monitoring: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has reached agreement on partnerships to share voter data with three Republican-led states in an attempt to detect possible fraud, months after he pulled out of a bipartisan national system that largely performed the same function, Andrew Tobias reports.

Proposed I-71 Boston Road interchange

Aerial footage of the site of a proposed interchange along Interstate 71 at Boston Road in Brunswick, Ohio.John Pana,

Brunswick interchange: Some Ohio lawmakers announced Thursday they’re introducing legislation that would repeal a measure requiring the construction of a new Interstate 71 interchange between Strongsville and Brunswick. Jeremy Pelzer reports on the latest salvo in a years-long battle between Strongsville and Brunswick over building an interchange connecting I-71 with Boston Road, which runs along the border of the neighboring suburbs.

Supreme Court: Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody Stewart, a Democrat who is the first Black woman elected to the court, said she is running for reelection in 2024, when her first six-year term on the court ends. Laura Hancock reports that Justice Joe Deters, who was appointed to the court last December, also will seek a six-year term next year.

Gas vehicles: The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation championed by several Ohio Republicans that would prevent bans on the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles with internal combustion engines, reports Sabrina Eaton.

East Palestine: Water and soil at and near the East Palestine train derailment site needs to be tested over the long term, at least for 20 years, according to recommendations from a new Ohio Senate report examining the crash, Laura Hancock reports. Thirty-eight cars derailed from the tracks in East Palestine on Feb. 3.

Arts and Culture: The board of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, which oversees cigarette-tax spending for the arts, on Wednesday approved a two-year spending plan that would virtually zero-out the agency’s spending capacity by the end of 2025 unless the cigarette levy is renewed by then. Steven Litt reports the spending plan is a worst-case scenario that would keep $11.1 million a year flowing over the next two years to large cultural organizations, individual artists, community projects and other recipients, while consuming all predicted tax revenues and all but $500 of the agency’s fund balance over the two years.

Free tuition: Cleveland and East Cleveland graduates who are already eligible for free tuition at Case Western Reserve University can receive free on-campus housing, books and other student needs, beginning next fall, Courtney Astolfi reports.

UAW Strike begins at Ford assembly plant after contract ends without resolution

UAW workers begin their strike of Detroit’s Big Three automakers outside Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne early Friday morning. (Jacob Hamilton, Hamilton |

UAW strike: About 13,000 workers at select Ford, GM and Stellantis plants went on strike early this morning after the United Auto Workers and the companies failed to reach a deal before a midnight deadline. But whether the thousands of autoworkers in Greater Cleveland eventually will strike is still not clear, reports Sean McDonnell.

Joann: Joann Inc. laid off an undisclosed number of employees at the corporate headquarters in Hudson on Wednesday in what it says is an attempt to restructure its business amid a declining stock price. Sean McDonnell reports the layoffs at the fabrics and crafts retailer come just months after its CEO abruptly retired in May. Joann stock was trading at just 90 cents a share when markets closed on Wednesday, down from $4.62 in February.

COVID cases: The number of new COVID-19 cases in Ohio climbed again, increasing from 8,607 last week to 9,690 this week – the highest point since Jan. 12, reports Julie Washington. Cases have now risen 10 weeks in a row.

Water grants: The Cleveland Water Alliance has awarded grants to three companies hoping to develop a method to detect lead water-service lines without having to excavate them. Peter Krouse reports the awards were made as part of the alliance’s 2023 Open Innovation Challenge, designed to find a cheaper way for cities and utilities to replace their lead water lines.

Game threat: Shaker Heights and Maple Heights high schools played football Thursday night without spectators or marching bands after it was announced that Shaker Heights received a possible threat related to the game. The district said Shaker Heights police and school officials were investigating the threat, Molly Walsh reports.

Bus crash: Authorities are investigating a school bus crash that happened Thursday morning in Geauga County. No injuries were reported when a Cardinal Local Schools bus carrying 20 children crashed about 8:30 a.m. near Middlefield, reports Olivia Mitchell.

East CLE officer sentenced: Former East Cleveland police officer Willie Warner Sims was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison, a sentence, reports Cory Shaffer. Sims agreed to the sentence when he pleaded guilty last month to four counts of robbery and one count of theft in office for robbing Whitlow and two other people during his time on the force.

Touring Prince's Paisley Park

Exterior of Prince’s Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Paisley Park: Prince, who died in 2016, is still very much alive at Paisley Park, the home studio he built in suburban Minneapolis, reports Susan Glaser. More than a house and more than an office, Paisley Park is a 65,000-square-foot shrine to a musician and music generally, a love letter to what was and what might have been.

Jason Aldean: On Sunday evening, singer, songwriter and country music star Jason Aldean will bring his “Highway Desperado” tour to Blossom Music Center. Somewhere near the middle, he will perform his first crossover Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit, the very controversial “Try That In A Small Town,” reports Malcom X Abram. More specifically, it’ll be after “Tattoos on This Town” and “Rearview Town,” but before “Crazy Town” and “Hicktown.”

PSLs: The September chill in the air can only mean one thing — it’s pumpkin spice season. Starbucks popularized the pumpkin-spiced latte years ago, but it’s remained steadfast as an annual trend. For those folks who would rather support a local cafe business, Alex Darus has 26 coffee shops in Northeast Ohio with pumpkin-spiced coffee drinks on their menus.

Things to do: The final weekend of summer is here, meaning you can enjoy a few early fall festivals in a T-shirt and shorts. Joey Morona lists 16 things to do, including Oktoberfest and a Myles Garrett corn maze.

Don’t forget, you can always find the latest Cleveland news by visiting If you value the hard work of Cleveland journalists, consider becoming a subscriber.

— Curated by Laura Johnston with contributions by Cliff Pinckard

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