Ohio Governor Wants Warrants Added To Background Check Data

As we continue to discuss gun control and gun rights, people are floating every manner of idea they can manufacture. Everyone in power appears to be desperate to come up with something that will let them tell their constituents that they’re “doing something” on mass shootings. The trick for them is to balance that with other concerns of their constituents.

For some, it’s all about gun control.

Others are trying something else. For example, the governor of Ohio wants a tweak to what’s included in NICS.

 Ohio should start requiring that certain protection orders and arrest warrants for top-tier, violent crimes be entered into background check systems that help notify law enforcement and gun sellers about potentially dangerous people, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday.

He said critical information doesn’t make it into those state and federal systems, which can make it harder for officers and gun dealers to know when they’re dealing with people who might be a concern.

DeWine said Ohio is starting work to create a simple, digital, state-funded system for police and courts to add information about warrants and protection orders to the background check systems, and he’ll ask lawmakers to make it mandatory.

“Good data promotes an effective system, and an effective system can save lives,” said Preble County Sheriff Michael Simpson, who joined the announcement in support.

DeWine said there are an estimated 500,000 or more open warrants in Ohio, but less than half of those have been entered into the state’s Law Enforcement Automated Data System, or LEADS, and only about 18,000 of those were put into the federal system.

There are a couple of problems with this.

For one, the Department of Justice changed their interpretation of the term “fugitive from justice” to only include people who have crossed state lines back in 2017, causing the FBI to purge thousands of people with arrest warrants from their system. What DeWine is talking about doing is going back to the old interpretation, which is all fine and well…at the federal level. Without a change in state law, though, I’m not sure he actually can do any such thing.

Plus, there’s the fact that an arrest warrant isn’t due process. Plenty of people are arrested and then released. An arrest warrant isn’t a finding of guilt, so there are some due process concerns that have to be considered with something like this as well.

To be clear, what DeWine is talking about isn’t particularly radical. It was the law for decades at the federal level and, if it became so again, I don’t think too many of us would shed a single tear. While those with arrest warrants may not be convicted of anything, there’s a high risk of them being dangerous people anyway, so a lot of people would be just fine them not being allowed to arm themselves.

Of course, if they’re really dangerous, they probably are both already armed and know how to access the black market for guns without a problem.

It’ll be interesting to see how the debate on this topic shapes up in Ohio.