Ohio this week rolled out its Stolen Gun Portal, an online database that prospective buyers and sellers can use to determine if the gun they have in their possession has ever been reported stolen.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost spearheaded the effort, which he hopes will both deter criminals and help law enforcement return stolen guns to their rightful owners.
“With our new portal, when buying a used firearm, private citizens and firearms dealers can instantly check to see whether a gun was previously reported as stolen,” Yost said.
“This is a tool for gun buyers and law enforcement alike that will lead to the recovery of stolen firearms and serve as a deterrent for criminals seeking to make a quick buck,” he added.
To check to see if a gun is hot, users simply enter the firearm’s serial number into the searchable database. If there’s a match, the user is then instructed to contact the law enforcement agency that made the report.
“We believe this will assist law enforcement in Ohio with the recovery of many stolen weapons, which will enable us to return them to the proper owner as well as keep stolen firearms off the streets and out of the criminals’ hands,” said Hardin County Sheriff Keith Everhart, president of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association.
“The sheriffs’ association is very pleased with the rollout of the Stolen Gun Portal from Attorney General Yost’s office,” said Hardin.
There is no law on the books compelling gun owners to use the database, at least not yet. Moreover, supporters emphasized that it is not a gun owner registry.
Eric Delbert, the owner of L.E.P.D. gun store, applauded the move.
“When we started our business 8 years ago, we recognized that changes need to be made to allow reputable stores such as ours the ability to provide customers the security of knowing if they purchase a used firearm from our store, it was not previously stolen. Surprising to many, this was not the case in Ohio,” he said in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica.
“We also foresaw an opportunity where this service could be utilized not just by any firearm enthusiast wanting to insure they were not supporting the illegal sale of firearms from criminals,” he continued. “AG Yost heard our experiences and set forth the resources to create this new program in Ohio. It is only one step to help reduce violence in our community, but it is certainly a small victory in helping take away avenues for thieves and criminals to advance their illegal activities of selling stolen firearms to unsuspecting good citizens.”
GunsAmerica reached out to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, to get its take on the portal.
“The NSSF wants to ensure firearms remain beyond the reach of those who should not have them. A voluntary check system to ensure a firearm isn’t stolen property protects the retailer and the potential customer,” said Mark Oliva, the organization’s Director of Public Affairs in an email to GunsAmerica.
“There are reservations, however over liability to the retailer if a firearm is discovered to be on that stolen property list and there are concerns that this voluntary method could be become required for mandatory use,” Oliva cautioned.
The portal is updated with new information each night between 11:00 and 11:20 p.m. Users are asked not to use it during this timeframe as it could return inaccurate or incomplete results.
What are your thoughts on Ohio’s Stolen Gun Portal?