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Ohio Attorney General Creating Database To Search For Stolen Guns

Attorney General Dave Yost speaks at a press conference in 2018.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Attorney General Dave Yost speaks at a press conference in 2018.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is creating an online portal for residents to check if a gun was stolen.

People who want to buy a firearm will be able to plug its serial number into the website, which will cross reference it with a database.

"There’s a lot of innocent users out there that may potentially be getting a gun that may have been stolen," Yost says. "Who knows? Perhaps it’s been used in a crime—God forbid, maybe it’s been used to kill somebody, and now you’ve got possession of it. That’s a problem that needs to be solved."

Yost says that a database like this could dampen the marketplace for stolen guns.

"If we have this kind of check-in place, there will be fewer of these sales, less incentive to go steal a gun," he says.

Because of the nature of the gun information, the timeline for the project remains uncertain.

"That’s where the devil's in the details," he says. "The data actually lives in several different places and different agencies have control over it."

Yost is hoping for cooperation from law enforcement agencies across the country, but he says his department won't let perfect be the enemy of good.

"We’ll probably put it online before we have an exhaustive database because even a partial database is useful," he says.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.