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Ohio AG proposes public stolen gun database

The move comes at the urging of dealers and buyers who want to be able to identify stolen guns that end up being sold to unsuspecting customers.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General David Yost has disclosed that he is developing a public database for the listing of stolen guns.

Yost says the move comes at the urging of some firearms dealers and buyers who want to be sure that they can identify and trace the rising number of guns that are stolen and end up being sold to unsuspecting buyers.

In an 11 Investigates special last November, it was discovered that the reports of stolen firearms in Ohio and elsewhere in the nation are rising rapidly according to figures from the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

RELATED: 11 Investigates: Good Guns Gone Bad

Ohio, about 30-40 guns are reported stolen every day and may not account for the those that go unreported.

In Toledo, the average is about one gun stolen every day in the city. Already, this year about 7 guns have been reported as stolen.

RELATED: Retired TPD officer sentenced for firearm stolen from evidence room

Most of the thefts occur from private owners, from cars and homes.  Many of the stolen guns, according to police and ATF officials end up on the streets being sold to people who couldn't otherwise qualify to buy a weapon legally. Often, felons, kids, or gang members.

But others also end up being sold to legitimate buyers, even firearms dealers who say they need some type of reliable database to verify that a gun is not stolen or has been used in a  crime. 

Currently there is no official database in Ohio, but Yost, in an interview with National Public Radio, says the Internet portal has now been created by his office and he hopes it will be opened soon to the public.

So far, however, the serial numbers of stolen guns have yet to be put into it the system.  Yost is hoping to convince law enforcement  agencies in the state to join in the effort so that the public will be able to legally access the information and can look up a serial number before they purchase a firearm. 

Other states, like Florida have already developed similar database sites as police agencies cope with a non-stop flood of contraband weapons on the streets of many cities. 

Kevin Arnett, Special Agent in Charge of the Toledo Office of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms says once a gun is stolen it is a potential danger.

"Because any firearm that is stolen is going to end up in the hands of someone who shouldn't have it," said Arnett.

While most agencies in the Toledo area we checked with have an internal digital database of stolen gun records and serial numbers, Ironically, the ATF does not have an Internet database of stolen guns because it is prevented by federal law from doing so.

The result is that all reports and inquiries from law enforcement have to be submitted by paper records and searches for serial numbers and tracing efforts are done by hand as it was done in the pre-computer age. 

The Ohio Attorney General said he believes the database for the public is something that Ohio needs to do.

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