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Ohio Working On New Gun Background Check System

Though gun violence in Cincinnati has been on the decline, there were more than 300 shootings in the city last year.
Though gun violence in Cincinnati has been on the decline, there were more than 300 shootings in the city last year.

When Ohio Governor Mike DeWine responded to calls to "do something"after Dayton's Oregon District mass shooting, one thing he thought about was creating a more comprehensive background check system for people buying guns. The state is now preparing to start a pilot program with a complete rollout in 2022.

One of the governor's senior policy advisors talked about it on a Zoom call Friday as part of the "Whitney Strong" series. Andy Wilson says the new computer system is outside of the 17-point plan to deal with increasing gun violence in Ohio, Senate Bill 221.

"The information in the background check that the feds are doing is only as good as the information they are getting from the locals. So we need to improve the quality and the timeliness of the information that we are getting from our locals with regard to convictions; mental health adjudications; substance abuse adjudications." Wilson says Ohio needs to do a better job of getting the information into the system.

It would link into the federal NICS system, or National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Warrants would be entered in electronically in the new system.

People have been buying guns in record numbers in Ohio.  This comes as the murder rate is up 27% and other violent crime has increased 16% in Ohio's largest cities for the first six months of 2020.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley was part of the speaker series Friday and says the mental health crisis is contributing to the violence. "We have to get the gun laws in order but we also have to recognize that we have a mental health crisis," she says.

A spokesman for the governor's office says Ohio's improved background system will be piloted soon and rolled out for everyone in 2022.

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With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.