Hundreds of courts skip governor's background check survey

Hundreds of courts skip governor's background check survey
Posted at 7:04 PM, Jul 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-03 19:04:55-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — More than 200 mostly mayor's courts across Ohio have failed to respond to the governor's executive order seeking more information on their history with the national background check database used in stopping gun-related crimes, records show.

Republican Gov. John Kasich sought the information in an April order as part of his broader bipartisan effort to improve Ohio's gun laws.

The directive asked courts to provide information on their use of the National Instant Criminal Background System, or NICS, and what barriers they've faced in adding information to the database.

Hundreds of courts — including 87 of 88 courts of common pleas and all but 12 of 164 municipal and county courts — provided the requested self-evaluation, according to survey results obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday through a public records request.

But 214 courts in 63 Ohio counties were listed as non-responsive. That included some courts, like Akron Municipal Court, that say they provided at least a partial response and a high number of mayor's courts, some of which may no longer be operational.

Ohio Supreme Court spokesman Ed Miller cautioned that not responding to Kasich's survey is not the same as courts being non-compliant with NICS reporting requirements. He said the vast majority of courts-of-record across the state are properly inputting data into the background check system.

Karhlton Moore, executive director of the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, said the administration was pleased overall with the level of response to the voluntary survey. He said results are being analyzed for a report due to Kasich on Aug. 1.

"The next step is reaching out to NICS submitters and try to make an assessment of the reasons why they're either not reporting or they are reporting but things that could make it easier to report," Moore said.

A working group convened by Kasich in response to recent deadly mass shootings has recommended a series of changes to Ohio gun laws, including provisions to force stricter compliance with deadlines and penalties around entering data into the background check system.

A bill containing those changes is stalled in the Legislature, which went on summer break last week.