Ohio expands reporting tool for background check database used for gun sales and traffic stops

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Ohio is rolling out a new digital tool to local law enforcement and courts to enter information — such as warrants and protection orders — into state and federal criminal databases.

These databases are used to run background checks on gun sales. Law enforcement officers also check the database during traffic stops to learn of possible outstanding warrants.

Gov. Mike DeWine said the new tool, which is being offered for free to all reporting agencies, is meant to streamline the process of entering vital information into the system.

“This a matter in some cases of life and death,” DeWine said. “The fact is that databases obviously are only as good as the information that is put in, how accurate that information is, and whether or not the information is put in at all.”

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R-Ohio) roll out new eWarrants system for information entry into databases used for background checks at a press conference.
Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R-Ohio) roll out new eWarrants system for information entry into databases used for background checks. [Andy Chow | Statehouse News Bureau]
Some counties still use a paper process to file information into the two databases — Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) and National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

DeWine said, although the databases are important tools, state law does not require agencies to report warrants and safety protection orders into these systems. DeWine is pushing for the state legislature to mandate law enforcement and courts to report what are known as tier one warrants.

“To help ensure that our state and federal background check systems have accurate information to identify wanted criminals and to prevent the illegal purchase of guns to those who are legally prohibited from buying them,” said DeWine.

In 2019, after the mass shooting in Dayton, DeWine proposed several legislative measures that increased regulations on guns, expanded the use of background checks for gun sales, and expanded safety protection orders.

DeWine said he still supports an expansion to safety protection orders to increase the ability for a judge to remove firearms from someone deemed to be a threat to themselves or others as long as there is due process.

But, even though DeWine emphasized the importance of the background checks database, he would not say if he still supports an expansion of the use of background checks for more gun sales — which are not required by law for private transactions.

Watch: DeWine on expanding background checks for gun sales

“What we have tried to focus on is what we can control. And what we control is making sure that the information is going in is accurate and good information,” said DeWine.

Different counties in the state were using different platforms for their reporting. Now the state is working with those counties to integrate those systems – 19 vendors in total – with the eWarrants system.

The state is currently working with counties to integrate the eWarrants system with the variety of platforms different agencies were already using. The state spent $4.7 million on creating the eWarrants system, outreach to reporting agencies, and training.

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