Ohio’s Criminal Background Check System Doesn’t Work. And?

(courtesy dispatch.com)

“The computerized background-check system operated by the [Ohio] Bureau of Criminal Investigation in the office of Attorney General Mike DeWine has been troubled for years, sometimes indicating that thousands of criminals have clean records,” dispatch.com reports. “Thousands of police officers and employers rely daily on the criminal background check system that DeWine describes as ‘critical for the safety of Ohio families.’ The system is used to vet school teachers, foster parents, medical professionals, police officers, firefighters, day care and nursing home workers and gun owners seeking concealed carry permits, among many others.” So how bad is it? . . .

Hundreds of times in the past three years, including 195 in 2014, BCI backtracked to tell employers that they had been incorrectly informed that a would-be, or hired, employee had no criminal record.

Questions about accuracy aren’t limited to the computer system. Since 2013, some court clerks, including in Franklin and Hamilton counties, inadvertently did not submit criminal conviction records to BCI for months. And problems remain.

A spot check by WBNS-TV of municipal and county court records in eight counties found 6.6 percent of convictions from recent years — more than 10,000 overall — missing from the state system.

BCI employees acknowledge that the system is unreliable. A supervisor wrote in a December email that system errors “could mean a person who committed a felony offense will not have this on their record.” . . .

Some sheriffs complain that they periodically fail to receive background checks within the 45-day legal limit for issuing permits to people seeking to carry concealed handguns.

Clearly, the Buckeye State multi-million dollar (per year) criminal background check system sucks. And here’s the thing: the system’s failure has not resulted in an epidemic of firearms-related homicides. Why would it? Criminals have a strange (if entirely predictable) tendency to obtain their firearms outside of the system.

In 2013, all homicides in Ohio dropped 34 percent. Total number: 35. Out of a population of 11.57 million. In fact, Ohio’s violent crime rate has been falling steadily since 2008 (as the population remained stable).

What role did the background check system have in any of this? I’m thinking … none. Or, if any, a statistically insignificant amount.

The truth about the criminal background check system for firearms purchases: it’s nothing more or less than security theater. Can anyone refer me to a single study that establishes a direct causal link between a state’s or the federal government’s firearms-related criminal background check system and reduced firearms-related crime or suicides? They cannot.

Can anyone argue that the criminal background check system is NOT an infringement on Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, which are subject neither to the democratic process or social utility? Someone can. They can do that, but they’d be wrong.   [h/t John in Ohio]


  1. avatar JasonM says:

    The truth about the criminal background check system for firearms purchases: it’s nothing more or less than security theater.

    It’s quite a bit more than just security theater:
    * It’s a first step towards registering guns and gun owners on the way to confiscation.
    * It teaches the people that the government is the ultimate decision maker on what we may or may not do.
    * It employs hundreds of unproductive bureaucrats, while funneling money to connected product and service vendors, who will return some of that as campaign donations to their friends.

  2. Typical. They never work.

  3. avatar Scottlac says:

    Anyone who has ever had a traffic ticket in Ohio has a criminal record. Ohio counts traffic citations as a “minor misdemeanor”. It shows up on your criminal background check. Other states, no. Ohio, crime.

    Maybe that’s some of the difficulty.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      In Florida, a traffic ticket is a probation violation. Folks with a run-of-the-mill DV conviction on probation get a traffic ticket and get tossed in the clink for next-day arraignment.

      Surprise, surprise…

  4. avatar MattG says:

    I think you read that page wrong, the number of muders committed in 2013 was 455, which is 3.9 per 100,000 citizens. But yes, the violent crime rate (absolute crime rate and rate per 100,000) is the lowest it’s been since the early 70’s in the Buckeye State. Violent crime per 100,000 has fallen from 350 to 275 (so over 40,000 to less than 32,000) from 2008-2013.

    And gun hobbyists are a huge problem that needs addressed RIGHT MEOW. Because we don’t have any problems more pressing than that, right?

  5. avatar Mk10108 says:

    Lets flip this to say if they’re incompetent to load convictions into the system, why think registration leads to confiscation? In CA law abiders are getting guns confiscated. How to grabbers know, your in a database.

    Everyone’s gun IS registered. You are in a database somewhere. Feds can swoop into manufactures tomorrow and confiscate sales and repair records.

    I would swap the world knowing I have a handgun for the ability to carry anywhere in the U.S.

    1. avatar Brett says:

      If you want to carry anywhere in the U.S. you could always become a police officer and carry under H.R. 218.

      1. avatar Mk10108 says:

        States recognition of roaming tax assessors and assess forfeiture specialist. Law abiding citizen wanting to protect themselves, hi ho F$$k you.

    2. avatar John in Ohio says:

      Then buy through private sale and carry deep concealment. How often are you actually searched by a cop? If it weren’t for activism, I am generally ignored by the boys and girls in blue. In some ways, criminals enjoy greater Liberty than the rest of us mostly law abiding folk. If guns were verboten in my state, I would be armed anyway.

      1. avatar Mk10108 says:

        Right up until your pulled over for a warrant less search.

        1. avatar John in Ohio says:

          ‘Tis a better option than selling the Liberty of future generations down the river.

      2. avatar BlueBronco says:

        John, the problem in such states is that they would send you “up river” and bye bye Liberty. Think MD, CT, NJ, NY.

        1. avatar John in Ohio says:

          No doubt, but please don’t whittle away protections on the right to keep and bear arms was my message.

  6. avatar SpecialK says:

    One quick word: It bears mentioning that Dewine is actually pretty pro 2A and a CHL holder himself. The man is saddled with a bad system. I’m not saying he would ditch the background check tomorrow if he could, I honestly don’t know, but he supports just about every pro 2A bill that gets proposed.

  7. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    Strangely, no mention (that I could find) in the article regarding any CHLs being issued improperly, due to false negatives.

  8. avatar JT says:

    Ohio switched to a NICS compatible check for CHLs last month. It allows them to not have to use the troubled OBCI system anymore and allows CHL holders to buy a gun without the added time of the dealer running a NICS check.

  9. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    Key takeaway: ” And here’s the thing: the system’s failure has not resulted in an epidemic of firearms-related homicides. ”

    Big Brother isn’t making you safer. Disown Big Brother.

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