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Civic Leaders and Gun Safety Advocates Applaud Recent Court Decision to Move Forward with Lawsuit to Fix State’s Broken Background Check System


Columbus and Dayton sued the state in 2020 for failing to fix gaps in background check system, which could allow dangerous individuals to access firearms when they should otherwise be prohibited due to violent convictions

COLUMBUS, OH— Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, City of Dayton Law Director Barbara Doseck, and gun safety advocates released statements following a Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge’s decision to move forward with a case seeking a court order to require the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) to take actionable steps to address troubling gaps in the state’s background check database.

For years, the state has failed to collect and maintain all required criminal records to enter into the background check system, and as a result, thousands of criminal records have fallen through the cracks. In addition to feeding information into the federal firearms background check system, the BCI system is also used to run background checks requested by employers statewide and those hiring adults to work with children.

Officials and advocates have argued that state laws are only as strong as their implementation and enforcement, and by taking actionable steps to ensure dangerous and irresponsible individuals are entered into the state’s background check system, the BCI can ensure that individuals prohibited from accessing firearms will not fall through the cracks.

“For years, Ohio has failed to maintain a functional background check system as required by law, which could allow violent and dangerous individuals to access firearms and be around our kids. The longer this system remains broken, the longer every Ohioan remains needlessly at risk. The time for a fix is now.

“We’re encouraged that the Court is moving forward with this case to investigate the deficiencies of this system. Addressing gun violence takes investments in people and empowering police and prosecutors to do their jobs to get violent individuals off the streets and behind bars, but it also takes the political will to do what we can at the state and local levels to promote public safety, pass commonsense laws like safe storage and red flag laws, and maintain a robust background check system to ensure violent individuals cannot access deadly firearms.” – Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein

“We are hopeful that the Court’s decision will provide a path to address the inadequacies of Ohio’s background check system. Ohioans deserve a functional and reliable system to assist in keeping us all safe. Dayton uniquely understands the tragedy, reality, and lasting implications of senseless gun violence.” –City of Dayton Law Director Barbara Doseck

“We’re grateful that the court recognized that Ohio cities have the right to seek relief from BCI’s failure to meet their clear legal obligations. Ohio officials must ensure that all procurable felony criminal convictions and other required records are part of the state and federal background check systems. Ohioans depend on BCI’s background check database as an important check to keep all residents of the state safe.” – Eric Tirschwell, managing director of Everytown Law.

“We are pleased with the court’s common sense ruling to allow this case aimed at fixing Ohio’s broken background check system to move forward. The historic gaps in Ohio’s background check system have jeopardized the safety of all Ohioans, and this case is an important step in fixing the deficiencies in that system.” – Rachel Mechanic, Partner at Perkins Coie LLP

The lawsuit urges the Court to declare that BCI is legally required to procure, wherever procurable, fingerprints and other records related to persons who have been convicted of disqualifying crimes in Ohio and to fulfill its legal obligation to ensure that its databases are complete and accurate to the extent feasible.