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Gov. DeWine releases plan for stronger gun background check system

Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 @ 4:21 PM
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2019 @ 10:58 AM

Gov. DeWine releases plan for stronger gun background checks

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday a plan to enhance the background check system in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Dayton.

Domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault protection orders as well as outstanding warrants for serious offenses such as kidnapping and robbery would have to be uploaded into law enforcement and gun background check databases within 48 hours, under a proposal from DeWine.

DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the changes are needed to strengthen the Law Enforcement Automated Data System and the National Crime Information Center databases and to ensure that disqualified people aren’t able to to purchase guns because their information wasn’t added.

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“When critical information is missing, bad things happen,” DeWine said.

Improving the existing background check system is part of DeWine’s package of gun reforms following the mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District on Aug. 4 that killed nine and injured 27.

New technology needed

Husted will lead a team to develop technology that will allow Ohio’s 1,400 courts to easily upload the required information in a timely manner. The state is expected to bear the cost, DeWine said.

Federal law bars the purchase and possession of firearms by those who are convicted felons, domestic abusers and who have specific mental health histories.

Local clerks of courts are responsible for uploading conviction and sentencing records to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, which then sends it to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. But records show that several courts across Ohio have failed to upload data in a timely manner, leaving open the chance that convicted felons ineligible to buy guns will pass background checks.

There are more than 500,000 open arrest warrants in Ohio but only 217,000 have been added to LEADS and just 18,000 have been uploaded to the gun background check system, DeWine said.

Preble County Sheriff Michael Simpson joined DeWine for the announcement.

“Good data promotes an effective system, and an effective system can save lives,” Simpson said.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said “without good records that are accessible to law enforcement statewide, policies like background checks and extreme risk protection order laws will be difficult to enforce.”

She said she appreciates DeWine’s latest proposal for requiring the addition of information about warrants and protection orders.

Gun-rights groups react

The Buckeye Firearms Association, a pro-gun rights advocacy group, said the background system needs to be fixed to include state criminal and mental health records but the association opposes mandating universal background checks, including on private sales.

“This is a violation of personal property rights, and it won’t affect crime at all. Most criminals will never go through a background check. They get their guns through illegal means today and will continue to do so tomorrow” the BFA said in a written statement.

Gallup Poll shows 96 percent of Americans favor requiring background checks for all gun purchases. Currently, background checks are conducted for purchases made through federally licensed firearms dealers, leaving out private sales and some purchases made at gun shows.

Ohioans for Gun Safety is collecting 132,887 valid voter signatures to put an expanded background check law before the General Assembly. If lawmakers ignore or amend the proposed law, the group can collect another round of signatures to put it on the statewide ballot in November 2020.

Related: Ohio voters may decide on gun background checks

Ohio Department of Health data show 16,374 people died by firearms in Ohio between 2007 and 2019 — roughly 60% of which were suicides. Firearms fatalities have risen nearly 40 percent since 2007, state data show.

Seventeen gun bills are currently pending in the Ohio General Assembly, including measures to strengthen background checks and prohibit gun purchase and possession by those convicted of domestic violence. Several bills, though, seek to expand gun rights, such as allowing Ohioans to carry concealed weapons without mandatory training or background checks.

Gun control measures are also being considered in Congress.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related: U.S. House set to act on gun bills following Dayton, El Paso shootings