Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announces plans to enhance background checks

Posted at 9:51 AM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 19:50:35-04

COLUMBUS -- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine wants to enhance federal and state background checks as part of his initiative to reduce violence involving dangerous weapons.

DeWine said there is currently no law in Ohio requiring entry of warrants for violent crimes or protection orders. He's backing legislation that would mandate that law enforcement enter warrants for 28 serious, violent crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder.

"I think it would come as a shock to most Ohio citizens that there is no requirement that these be entered into the state database, nor is there a requirement that they be entered into the federal database," DeWine said.

Furthermore, DeWine wants all warrants entered into the background checks systems electronically, no matter how big or small.

DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced the initiative as part of DeWine's 17-point STRONG Ohio plan during a Wednesday morning press conference. Watch the full announcement in the player below.

Criminal history information submitted to Ohio’s law enforcement automated system, called LEADS, and the national system called NCIC is “dangerously deficient,” DeWine said.

“When critical information is missing, bad things happen … " DeWine said. "A federally licensed firearms dealer could unknowingly sell a gun to someone with a disqualifying conviction because that conviction simply did not show up in the background check.”

Mark Droke, manager of Center Mass Defense gun shop in Ross, says he likes DeWine's ideas but they won't entirely solve the problem of guns getting into the wrong hands.

“If somebody walks into the store, I have no way of knowing their mental status,” Droke said. "The mental aspect of it is the biggest part of it.”

Nevertheless, enhancing background checks is a good place to start, according to Ross resident Ronald Thompson.

“I think it’s a great idea because I think we alleviate a lot of individuals who are criminals or people who don’t deserve or need guns," Thompson said.

There are at least 500,000 open warrants in Ohio, yet only 217,000 were entered into state LEADS system, according to DeWine’s Ohio Warrant Task Force. Of those 18,117 were entered into the federal system.

“This is clearly a safety issue for law enforcement, and it’s a safety issue for the public,” DeWine said.

DeWine said the current process to enter information is cumbersome and is usually paid for by local governments. He said the state would make sure local government agencies have the resources to enter data.

Through Innovate Ohio, Husted would develop a simple, free and mandatory solution, DeWine said. Husted said the technology would be used by 1,400 entities across the state and would do away with handwritten warrants, indictment and protection orders.

"Many of these are never electronically entered into the LEAD system, and as a result, those records are not in the background check system for firearm purchases," Husted said.

Officials would create a single, digital entry point that eliminates the paper system and automatically displays information at the state and federal level.