Columbus and Dayton officials today filed a lawsuit seeking a court order against Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation to fix gaps in the state’s criminal background check process.
The cities want a complete and accurate system to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, according to Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein:
"This means maintaining a background check system that includes records for everyone convicted of a felony in Ohio, so they can't purchase a gun, get a concealed carry permit or get hired for a sensitive job where that conviction may be disqualified," Klein continued. "Unfortunately, that's not what we have here in Ohio. For far too long the state has maintained a criminal background system that is dangerously broken. Despite the critical role a fully populated background check system plays in protecting public safety, Ohio's system continues to suffer from massive gaps."
The lawsuit cites a 2018 survey commissioned by former Republican Governor John Kasich showing the state receives and collects criminal disposition information from only 60% of the elected clerks of court. More recently, State Auditor Keith Faber found that more than half of Ohio’s 88 counties had at least one court or law enforcement department that failed to report timely records. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley:
"We're well aware that fixing these problems in our background check system won't end gun violence," Mayor Whaley acknowledged. "No law prevents all crime, but every sale that our background check system blocks to someone with a violent history is a potential tragedy averted."
Officials hope the litigation expedites a solution, specifically that Ohio’s background check databases reflect full and complete information about all people convicted of felonies and other serious crimes.