Akron Beacon Journal, Aug. 9
Gun rights advocates like to cite shooting incidents such as the one involving Dylann Roof, accused of killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, as evidence that background checks for firearms just don’t work. What good are such checks, they often ask, if people like Roof can purchase firearms legally?
Proponents of tighter background checks have the much stronger argument. Roof, whose previous drug charges should have disqualified him under federal gun laws, got a gun because his records weren’t immediately accessible…
Because federal law does not require states to make information available, background checks frequently are based on incomplete files. State-level background checks are more thorough, notes the California-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, because they can access FBI information plus state and local data…
There are efforts by the Ohio attorney general’s office to remind local officials to report data to the state, which then sends files to the FBI, and, working with the Ohio Supreme Court, to computerize record keeping. What is lacking are laws that clearly require reporting all relevant records, closing dangerous gaps in the FBI database.
Full reporting, when added to an expanded time period for background checks and closing the loophole for private guns sales, finally would create a system far more likely to do what was intended – add to public safety.