TOLEDO, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is making moves on firearm background checks, stressing the importance of improving law enforcement databases.
"We will be taking action to enhance the state and federal background check systems," DeWine said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
The governor's announcement was another component of his "STRONG Ohio" plan to reduce weapon violence while increasing mental health treatment options.
The announcement comes less than a month after the tragic mass shooting in Dayton. Right now, if data is not entered, key elements about a person do not show up when they try to purchase a firearm. For example, a licensed gun seller could sell a gun to someone with a disqualifying conviction, simply because it did not show up on their background check.
"When will happen, what could happen is obvious," DeWine said.
In his speech, the governor said there are about 500,000 open warrants in Ohio. Of those 500,000, only 217,000 warrants were entered into the state LEADs system and 18,117 were entered into the federal system.
"And so as governor I can do more, and as governor I'm making the commitment. We're going to fix this system. And to fix it we've got to make it easy for the people who put the data in," he said.
The governor is asking the general assembly to require that courts submit "tier one" offenses within two days to state and federal check systems. Offenses like stalking, domestic violence and sexual assault must also be noted.
Additionally a new technological system that will help law enforcement and courts file this data faster will be developed. DeWine says this will be a free system, paid for by the state.
Gun advocates seem to be on board with this plan.
"The background check system is broken and needs to be fixed. We believe that enforcing and fixing the current background check system is definitely a good thing," said Dean Rieck of the Buckeye Firearms Association.
Reick said licensed gun sellers say the current system is a problem. Oftentimes people must wait when there is in question because the system is so delayed and can be incorrect.
"What they're proposing is just to get all the information that's supposed to be in the database, in the database. We believe that enforcing and fixing the current background check system is definitely a good thing" said Reick.
Representatives from the Buckeye Firearms Association said they will ultimately have to see the final version of this piece of proposed legislation before being completely on board. No word on a timeline for this new checking process, but DeWine says the developing digital filing system will start on Thursday.
Back in April, DeWine already had put something on the table, a version of what other states call a "Red Flag" law. These laws permit police or family members to petition a court to remove guns from people they believe could harm themselves or others.
Wednesday's remarks focused largely on doing a better job of detecting when people who have outstanding warrants or issues that should prohibit them from buying a gun. According to DeWine, there is currently no law in Ohio providing outstanding warrants for violent crimes or protection orders to be put into the registry system, and the federal mechanism is behind the times on this issue.