COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — City officials with Dayton and Columbus have announced a lawsuit against the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, over what they say is a failure to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
During a news conference Monday, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, City Attorney Zach Klein, along with Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley announced the lawsuit, claiming that gaps in Ohio’s background check databases allowed thousands of people prohibited from possessing firearms, because of a criminal conviction, to legally purchase a gun.
“One of our greatest responsibilities is to do what we can to protect public safety,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said. “The way we do that is through action and action is what we’re seeking through today’s lawsuit.”
Whaley continued, “It’s not so secret that when it comes to preventing gun violence there’s plenty that people don’t see eye to eye on. But the truth is there is much more we do agree on.”
Whaley pointed out that once a background check is completed and a Concealed Carry Permit is issued, that person needs only show that CCW to purchase a gun, and this can cause problems die to what Whaley called a flawed background check system. “We’re well aware that fixing these problems in our background check system won’t end gun violence,” Whaley said. “No law prevents all crime, but every sale that our background check system block is a potential tragedy averted.”
“When it comes to purchasing firearms, our citizens have been falsely lulled into feeling secure with Ohio’s and the federal background check systems,” said City Attorney Zach Klein. “Victims of domestic violence, schools and local employers rely on these systems to be accurate and to keep dangerous individuals unarmed and out of certain situations. The system is failing our residents – particularly those who are most at-risk. Republicans and Democrats have all acknowledged our broken system, but those in charge have failed to do anything about it. It’s up to us to step in and try to make this right for everyone’s safety and security.”
Watch the full news conference here
The lawsuit also alleges that the same people are also able to obtain an Ohio concealed carry permit and be hired in sensitive positions including working with children.
“The country has seen a spike in violence, and Columbus has not been immune,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “Roughly 70% of homicides in Columbus are committed with firearms, usually firearms that are illegally obtained. We should all be deeply concerned that background checks may be failing to keep firearms out of the hands of violent offenders, putting our residents in a dangerous position. We cannot and will not tolerate it.”
The lawsuit also claims that the gaps in criminal conviction record reporting are only one of many deficiencies in Ohio’s background check system, which also include gaps in the reporting of outstanding arrest warrants and of court findings of mental illness or commitments to mental health facilities.
“Going to court is never out first choice,” Whaley said. “But after years and years of inaction, we feel strongly that today’s action can expedite a solution. We will all be safer the day these problems are fixed.”