On April 23, 2018, Governor John R. Kasich issued Executive Order 2018-03K, National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Compliance. The order directed the Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) to accomplish three main tasks. First, OCJS was to survey the current status of NICS reporting in Ohio, and to identify barriers to complete, timely, and accurate reporting. Second, OCJS was to reconvene a 2015 Working Group that had previously addressed how data sharing could improve NICS compliance, and to expand the group to include local public officials or their respective associations who work most closely with ICS data. Third, with the data generated by the NICS survey, OCJS was to issue a report on the how to improve NICS reporting, including policy recommendations.
This report is the result of the survey data and the contributions of the Working Group. It outlines a framework in which the overall completeness of the information that Ohio provides to NICS can be improved. The Working Group consisted of outstanding individuals who were selected to serve as a result of their professional expertise and knowledge of the criminal background check system in Ohio and around the country. This report would not be possible without these partners and the organizations they represent.
This report is divided into sections representing law enforcement, courts (of record) and clerks, mayor’s courts and mental health facilities. Each section contains an explanation of NICS reporting responsibilities, a summary of survey responses to assess NICS compliance, an identification of barriers and solutions to improve NICS compliance and recommendations on how to improve the NICS system.
The survey data and discussions of the Working Group resulted in three categories of recommendations:
- Expanding training and education;
- Reducing duplicative, unclear or lack of express reporting responsibility; and
- Strategic planning and structured coordination.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention act of 1993 and officially launched in November 1998. A NICS check queries three nationally held databases: the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, which includes protection orders and wanted persons files; the Interstate Identification Index, or III, which contains state and federal criminal history records; and the NICS Indices, which serves as a centralized, national database for criminal justice agencies to submit the descriptive data of persons who are prohibited from the purchase or possession of firearms under federal or state law. NICS Examiners accurately match potential transferees/licensees to records by comparing name, date of birth, SSN (optional), address, height, weight, sex, race and state of residence information.
Agencies that enter records into NCIC, III and the NICS Indices are responsible for their accuracy, timeliness, and completeness. The Law Enforcement Data System (LEADS) assumes a large degree of administrative responsibility for the maintenance of records entered into NCIC. LEADS administers a quality assurance program to maintain system and record integrity. Entering agencies are required to complete a second party check of all entries and periodically validate records for completeness, accuracy and validity. Additionally, all entering agencies are required to undergo triennial audits to ensure compliance with state and FBI CJIS policy and regulations. The Ohio Attorney General's Office is required by FBI policy to implement like programs to ensure the integrity of records entered into III and the NICS Indices.