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Ohio governor: Add warrants to background check systems

August 28, 2019
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Preble County Sheriff Michael Simpson, left, listens as Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted discusses a proposal to require adding certain warrants to state and federal background check systems, during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, in Columbus. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko)
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Preble County Sheriff Michael Simpson, left, listens as Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted discusses a proposal to require adding certain warrants to state and federal background check systems, during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, in Columbus. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio should start requiring that certain protection orders and arrest warrants for top-tier, violent crimes be entered into background check systems that help notify law enforcement and gun sellers about potentially dangerous people, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday.

He said critical information doesn’t make it into those state and federal systems, which can make it harder for officers and gun dealers to know when they’re dealing with people who might be a concern.

DeWine said Ohio is starting work to create a simple, digital, state-funded system for police and courts to add information about warrants and protection orders to the background check systems, and he’ll ask lawmakers to make it mandatory.

“Good data promotes an effective system, and an effective system can save lives,” said Preble County Sheriff Michael Simpson, who joined the announcement in support.

DeWine said there are an estimated 500,000 or more open warrants in Ohio, but less than half of those have been entered into the state’s Law Enforcement Automated Data System, or LEADS, and only about 18,000 of those were put into the federal system.

He said he couldn’t say exactly how many of the warrants are the most serious type that he wants to require adding to the background check systems.

The proposal is part of a broader package of changes the governor has pushed in the wake of the Dayton shooting that killed nine people this month. He already proposed requiring background checks for nearly all gun sales and allowing courts to restrict firearms access for people perceived as threats.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said such proposals would be difficult to enforce without good records accessible by law enforcement around Ohio, and she said she appreciates DeWine’s latest proposal for requiring the addition of information about warrants and protection orders.

“In the gun policy conversation, it is easy to lose track of how important good recording keeping and administrative procedures are,” Whaley said in a statement.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said gun-rights supporters have urged the administration to address problems in how existing regulations are used and enforced before moving on to new changes. The background-checks proposal illustrates the administration’s commitment to addressing that, he said.

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