State Reps seek to tighten, improve background checks for gun purchases

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Two Ohio lawmakers introduced a bill Monday designed to reform background checks and close gaps in state law to help local law enforcement and prosecutors better protect Ohioans.

State Representative D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) and State Representative Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) held a news conference in Columbus Monday announcing the measure.

Swearingen detailed some of the changes in the proposed legislation citing the example that federal law bans anyone convicted of domestic violence from purchasing a firearm but Ohio law is silent on the issue. The proposed legislation includes aligning Ohio code with federal laws on that subject.

The legislation also seeks to lengthen the time sexual and violent juvenile offenders’ records will remain on file before they are expunged. Under current Ohio law records of this type remain sealed until the convicted juvenile reaches 23 years of age, at which time they are expunged. The bill would raise that age to 28.

“Individuals who committed sexual assault, battery and such crimes should not be able to walk into a gun shop and legally purchase a firearm simply because they committed these terrible acts before the age of 18,” Swearingen said.

Representative Phil Plummer said, “Ohio’s background check process is undermined by gaps, inconsistencies and delays in data being submitted.” The proposed legislation seeks to implement “clear and consistent” guidelines concerning what needs to be reported, when it needs to be reported and who is responsible for doing it.

One of the requirements of the bill imposes a one-business day deadline for entering certain convictions, mental health judgements, warrants and certain court orders into the National Background Check System. The plan includes $10 million to build a web portal the bill’s sponsors say will make data reporting in to the background check system more accurate.

Plummer said existing laws protect Ohioans but they need to be executed properly. “We’re missing people, we’re missing a group of people who have committed crimes and can still buy guns that we need to keep guns out of their hands,” Plummer said.

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