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Gov. Kasich signs order to tighten gun background checks

Posted at 7:04 PM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-23 19:04:59-04

Problems entering the names of Ohio individuals banned by law from possessing guns into a national background database will be addressed under actions announced Monday by Gov. John Kasich.

But an executive order signed by the Republican governor doesn’t fix those problems outright. Instead, it convenes a committee to quickly study the size of the problem and figure out ways to fix it. Kasich said he hopes for initial answers within a month.

At issue are people who can’t have guns, such as those judged mentally ill and convicted felons. Police departments and clerks of courts should be entering those names into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, but don’t always do it quickly, the governor said.

“There’s just no excuse for this data not being sent,” Kasich said.

In February, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that dozens of Ohio courts failed to upload the paperwork, including some that went months or years without an update.

A committee that last met in 2015 concluded that reporting improvements were needed. Kasich reconvened the group Monday and ordered new reporting on problems and how to fix them.

Kasich also said he wants the state auditor to include reporting to that database as part of regular audits of local governments.

State Auditor David Yost, a fellow Republican, said he’s been studying how such reviews could be done since late last year. Kasich’s order will help the office achieve the mutual goal of seeing how well governments are doing with such reporting, Yost said.

The move Monday comes as Kasich pushes a package of gun control efforts in the Legislature, including a so-called “red flag” law. That concept enables family members, guardians or police to ask judges to use a new gun violence restraining order to temporarily strip gun rights from people who show warning signs of violence.

Columbus gun shop owner Eric Delbert applauded the move, saying it’s inexcusable in an age when credit cards can easily be cancelled that such reporting can’t happen.

While his store can decline to sell a gun if sales people see red flags in a customer, but they eventually have to go with what the background system tells them, Delbert said.

Without proper background information, “We inadvertently can let somebody who is a prohibited person to own a gun walk out the door,” Delbert said.

Kasich’s proposal doesn’t come with penalties, but the governor said he believes agencies will comply.

The Ohio police union, the state police chiefs association, and the state clerks of court association support Kasich’s proposal.