Report from Ohio Auditor highlights the truth: Our background check system is broken
For many gun owners, the knowledge that our background check system is impotent to stop even convicted criminals from obtaining firearms is far from a new concept. But a new report from Ohio Auditor Keith Faber may help bring this concept home to a broader group of citizens.
The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that a review by Faber's office has revealed that 48 of Ohio's 88 counties had at least one court or law enforcement department that didn't report records on time or in a few cases, at all.
From the article:
As a result of Ohio's broken background check system, a convicted felon prohibited from owning a firearm could purchase one after passing a background check – all because some courts or local law enforcement agencies failed to upload paperwork in a timely manner.
"It is a systemic failure," Faber told The Enquirer. "It isn’t an isolated, local failure.”
When someone purchases a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, that store will run the buyer's personal information through the federal background check system. However, that system is only as good as the information entered into it.
And the information that Ohio is entering is incomplete and delayed, Faber's audit found. Nearly 90 local courts and several sheriff's departments did not submit the required convictions, fingerprints and other required information within one week – the deadline set by Ohio law.
In some cases, locals were misinformed by state officials who said the records could be submitted monthly.
In another instance, court officials uploaded records to the Ohio Supreme Court's system, which didn't transfer that information to the state or federal background check system. That scenario led to two years of missing records from Greene County Juvenile Court, according to Faber's review.
In Southwest Ohio, Franklin officials were notified that 10 of the 10 cases that the auditors checked were not submitted on time.
Ohio's current system is "broken and needs immediate attention," Faber wrote in a letter to DeWine, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and legislative leaders in October.
“We found more noncompliance in counties than we found compliance, which tells you there’s a problem," Faber told The Enquirer. About 65 percent of local offices weren't complying with state law on reporting information to the background check system.
As the article notes, this is far from the first time this problem has been brought to light.
In early 2018, the Enquirer did its own investigation, and found that nearly 100 courts in Ohio had failed to report felons to background check database on time. As a result of that 2018 investigation, then-Governor Kasich convened a task force to investigate, then issued an executive order aimed at getting our government to do what they were already supposed to be doing. The Columbus Dispatch reported later that more than 200 courts had ignored Kasich's order. Kasich responded by issuing more executive orders. And yet here we sit, more than one year after those latest orders, with an Ohio Auditor's report stating that the problem remains.
Given the fact that an untold number of felons are not being entered into the background check database, there is NO legitimate argument groups like "Ohioans for Gun Safety" can make to convince citizens of the Buckeye State to believe that mandating that MORE people be checked against this deficient database is going to somehow help solve the problems we face.
This background check problem is unconscionable, and it MUST be fixed.
Government officials at every level - from the Broward County Sheriff to the FBI - failed in their duties to prevent the killer from carrying out his acts in Parkland, FL in 2018.
Government and existing gun control laws failed to stop a man who murdered people in a Nashville Waffle House less than a year after he was arrested for breaching a barrier at the White House and demanding to speak with President Trump.
Government and existing gun control laws failed to stop a man from obtaining a gun and carrying out an attack at Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati in 2018.
Government and existing gun control laws failed to stop the killer in Dayton, Ohio earlier this year.
Yet some - including responsible parties in government - are all-too eager to blame and punish law-abiding gun owners who had absolutely nothing to do with this sick act.
There should be no more talk of laws which only punish the law-abiding. There should be no talk of mandating government control over private sales of guns between individuals.
Instead, those who are truly seeking to make a difference should focus their efforts on ensuring that government entities consistently, accurately, regularly input their data into the national database, and enacting and enforcing penalties on those who don't.
Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.