COLUMBUS — Two Ohio Republicans are introducing legislation that would require stricter background checks, allow the forced hospitalization of people suffering from drug abuse, and force Ohioans to wait longer before their juvenile records can be expunged.
State Reps. Phil Plummer, R-Dayton, and D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron, are the primary sponsors of the legislation. They are introducing these bills ahead of expected gun reform legislation from Gov. Mike DeWine. The governor has made gun reform a priority after a mass shooting in Dayton killed 10 people.
“Ohio’s background check process is undermined by gaps, inconsistencies and delays in the data being submitted,” Plummer said in a news release. “This legislation establishes clear, consistent guidelines for our current background check process, detailing what needs to be reported, when it needs to be reported and who is responsible for reporting it.”
The legislation would put stricter requirements on law enforcement, courts and mental health professionals to report information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It would expand the crimes that would trigger mandatory reporting and expand Ohio law to include all crimes that are required by federal law. It would also force entities to make reports to the NICS within one business day and fine entities that file late.
About $10 million would be allocated to Innovate Ohio to create a new streamlined reporting portal and about $2.4 million annually to the Ohio Department of Public Safety to run the portal.
“We cannot rely on a process that relies on redundant or incomplete information,” Swearingen said in the news release. “The new guidelines in this legislation, coupled with the creation of a new reporting portal, will bring our current background check process into the 21st Century. It will be a one-stop shop that ensures all data is accurate, complete and up-to-date.”
The legislation will update “pink slip” provisions, which allow for people with mental illness to be involuntarily committed to a hospital. Under this legislation, a person who suffers from moderate or severe substance abuse could be subject to forced commitment.
The bill would increase the age at which violent and sexual juvenile crimes could be expunged. Current law allow expungement at 23; this bill would raise it to 28. Juvenile offenders would still be able to get their records sealed from the public at the lower age, but law enforcement and courts would still have access to the information. The bill would also prohibit juvenile offenders from purchasing a firearm until their record is expunged.
DeWine is expected to propose further legislation that includes red-flag style laws, expanded background checks and social media monitoring. Some of DeWine’s proposals have received opposition from gun-rights groups.
Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.