Gov. DeWine announces enhanced background checks on gun sales

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Wednesday plans to enhance the state and federal background check systems to better protect law enforcement and the public, increase arrests of wanted offenders, and help prevent the sale of guns to those who are prohibited from purchasing a firearm.

“Our state and national background check systems are only as good as the data they hold, yet a great deal of vital information on dangerous individuals is missing from these systems,” said Governor DeWine. “This lapse creates a substantial risk to the public, to victims, and to law enforcement officers who unknowingly encounter wanted suspects. It is time that Ohio takes action to fix this major flaw.”

More than 1,300 Ohio law enforcement agencies and courts are required to submit case dispositions and certain mental health adjudications to Ohio’s Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), but there is currently no requirement for the entry of arrest warrants or protection orders into the state or federal background check systems.

As part of his STRONG Ohio bill, Governor DeWine will ask the Ohio General Assembly to mandate that courts enter final domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault protection orders into the LEADS and NCIC systems within 48 hours of their issuance.

He will also request that Ohio law enforcement agencies be required to enter warrants for serious, Tier I offenses within the same two-day time period.

Governor DeWine’s Ohio Warrant Task Force developed the Tier I offense list earlier this year and recommended that warrants for 28 serious crimes such as murder, kidnapping, rape, and domestic violence be mandated for entry into LEADS and NCIC.

In a report issued in May, task force members estimated that there are more than 500,000 open arrest warrants in Ohio, but as of March 2019, only 217,052 of those warrants were in LEADS and only 18,117 warrants were in NCIC, which is one of the systems used by the FBI when conducting National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) point-of-sale background checks for federally-licensed firearms dealers on prospective gun buyers.

“Responsible gun shop owners don’t want to sell a gun to someone who shouldn’t have one, so when they call the FBI for a background check, they depend on the information to be correct. When it’s not, the system is failing not only these business owners, but the public as well,” said Governor DeWine. “It’s time to stop talking about the problem and start working to fix it. Otherwise, these point-of-sale background checks are useless.”

Both Governor DeWine’s Ohio Warrant Task Force and the 2018 NICS Compliance Working Group identified the need for an enhanced, statewide system for the entry of warrants and protection orders.

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