Ohio Gun Laws: An Overview


Each of the fifty states in the United States of America defines the individual laws related to firearms. Some states are more liberal than others. Ohio gun laws apply to all residents of the state and people who visit Ohio from other states, with a few reciprocity statutes in place.

All residents and visitors need to familiarize themselves with the gun laws in Ohio. If you violate them, you will be held responsible by local law enforcement who do not make exceptions for ignorance of the law. It’s not the most stringent in its application of gun laws and the rules are consistently changing. A few new laws were set in place in the past year. Here is an overview of Ohio gun laws current as of May 2022.

Ohio is a Shall Issue state

Ohio is a state that enacted a “Shall Issue” status for its citizens and lawful permanent residents at least 21 years and older. the term means that applicants are required to possess a valid permit for carrying handguns, but the law does not apply to long guns, which do not require permits.

In Ohio, law enforcement is compelled to issue a permit for handguns to all applicants who pass the basic requirements as established by Ohio state gun laws. It’s easier to get a permit to carry a handgun in Ohio than in some other states such as California, but it’s still a requirement to apply for the permit and present it to law enforcement when requested, according to Wikipedia.

The laws regarding gun possession change often

It’s the responsibility of all gun owners to keep apprised of changing gun laws because of the frequency of changes and amendments to current laws. For example, The state of Ohio passed legislation for a new Permitless Carry law that is scheduled to take effect on June 13, 2022. Violations of gun laws may result in fines, suspension of permits, and even jail time, depending on the offense. Ignorance of a law that has recently changed is not an excuse that will help if you’re found in violation.

What is the new Permitless Carry Law?

Kettering Health explains that the new Ohio gun law will allow most Ohio residents who are 21 years and older to carry a concealed weapon without the requirement of a concealed carry permit. It’s a major victory for supporters of the law, and a time of concern for Ohioans who fear for the safety of the public. The law has created some divisions among the public as not all Ohioans support looser gun rights.

The new law which will take effect on June 13, 2022, removes the requirement to inform law enforcement that you’re carrying a gun. There are no educational requirements for carrying a concealed weapon, which means that more people can legally tote a concealed weapon without a permit. If you’re caught with a concealed weapon without a permit before the law officially takes effect, you will still be held legally responsible for the violation, however.

Failure to inform law enforcement that you’re carrying a concealed weapon is currently a misdemeanor if asked by an officer. The new bill that is signed and slated to become law does away with the requirement and it has some residents and law enforcement professionals nervous.

Ohio is moving to a Constitutional Carry status

Passage of the new law will move Ohio from a shall-issue state to a Constitutional Carry, aka permitless carry state. This is one example of how quickly state gun laws can change, and the impact that a new law can have on the public. It’s a measure that allows residents to more fully exercise their recognized Constitutional right to own and bear arms, which is acknowledged in various degrees by all of the fifty states.

It’s a landmark and historical decision that will create changes. On one hand, it may deter criminal activity as there are likely to be more citizens carrying concealed weapons, but the lack of required education and training for handling firearms could result in more accidental shootings or irresponsible behaviors with firearms.

What do Ohio Gun Laws accomplish?

Ohio Gun laws regulate the sale of firearms and ammunition, and their possession and use. Residents meeting qualifications have the right to keep and bear arms by law, however, there are a few restrictions on gun ownership and transactions related to firearms including transportation of guns.

You do not need a state permit to purchase handguns or long guns, nor do they need to be registered. There are no assault weapon laws currently in place, nor are there magazine capacity restrictions. Owner license is not required for either long guns or handguns.

Restrictions on firearms in motor vehicles

Until June 13, 2022, it is illegal to transport a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle. This applies to all handguns. As of June 13, 2022, residents otherwise entitled to carry handguns will be allowed to legally carry them without a permit in motor vehicles. The law does not address long guns, so it is assumed that it will still be illegal to carry a loaded shotgun or rifle in a motor vehicle.

Stand your Ground Law

The Dearie Fischer Law firm confirms that Senat bill 175 is a measure to grant civil immunity to injury, death, and loss from carrying handguns. The new bill removes the responsibility of Ohioans to attempt a retreat under certain circumstances before they use force for self-defense, so long as they are in a place they are legally entitled to be.

The new law allows Ohioans to use force for defending themselves, and their residences, or to defend others from harm. These are the only reasons allowed for using force under the new law. The law replaces the old statute that placed the duty on citizens to attempt to flee rather than using a firearm for defense.

Restrictions for open carry

Ohio is an open-carry state that allows legal owners of firearms to possess them without a license. The law also protects certain agencies from exposure to the presence of firearms. Limitations on where open carry freedoms apply are actively in force.

You may keep your firearm on private company property locked inside a vehicle, however, employers reserve the right to prohibit employees from bringing firearms into the workplace. Firearms are not allowed on private or commercial properties that post signs prohibiting firearms, such as daycares, schools, and Class D liquor permitted businesses. it is unlawful to carry a concealed weapon if you are consuming alcohol.

Magazines and ammunition are required to be stored in a separate compartment when guns are kept in locked vehicles. Concealed firearms are not permitted on college campuses, but open carry is allowed.

Exemptions to open carry restrictions

Members of the military with a valid military ID and firearms training documentation on active duty are exempt from the limitations on open carry. Law enforcement officials are also exempted from the limitations. 10 TV confirms that private parties and businesses such as most theaters, restaurants, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, courthouses, and other government agencies will continue to ban weapons on their premises.

Restrictions on purchasing firearms in Ohio

Residents of Ohio who wish to purchase a long gun, e.g. rifle or shotgun, must be at least 18 years of age or older, and 21 years of age or older to purchase a handgun. There are no age requirements for purchasing ammunition and accessories. It’s against the law to fire a gun from the inside of a motor vehicle.

It is illegal to sell or give a long gun to anyone under the age of 18 or to sell or give them a handgun if they’re under the age of 21. Until June 13, 2022, you must receive at least 8 hours of handgun training consisting of 2 hours of range time and 6 hours of classroom instruction before you will be eligible to own a handgun.

You must receive instruction from a certified instructor and demonstrate competency through shooting and written tests. You must also pass a criminal background check until the new law takes effect.

Who can’t own or possess a gun in Ohio?

The State of Ohio prohibits anyone with a drug conviction, or a felony conviction to own or possess a gun. Some Ohioans convicted of specific violent or misdemeanor crimes are not eligible for gun ownership or possession for three years of the offense or conviction. Penalties for the improper handling of a firearm still exist and it’s wise to be aware of the laws and the consequences of violation.

Penalties for gun law offenses in Ohio

Dominy Law Firm explains that discharging a firearm while inside a motor vehicle is an offense that could result in a fourth-degree felony charge. The maximum prison term is up to 18 months with a fine of up to $5,000 and an additional probation period of up to five years.

Transporting a firearm illegally can result in a fourth-degree misdemeanor with penalties of a fine of up to $250, and up to 30 days in jail with probation of up to five years. Firearms must be in plain sight and secured in a holder or rack, in a compartment that requires the owner to leave the vehicle to reach the firearm, or in a closed case, box, or package. Persons transporting a firearm when over the limit or under the influence of alcohol or drugs are subject to a fifth-degree felony with fines up to $2,500, up to 12 months in jail, and a five-year probation period.

Drivers and passengers are subject to the law, and may also be charged with a DUI offense. The law in Ohio prohibits the transport of firearms while under the influence of alcohol or drugs whether you’re using the firearm, or not. You can’t even have a firearm in the vehicle if you’re under the influence.

Ohio gun laws and reciprocity agreements with other states

Ohio’s old concealed handgun law allows for reciprocity with other states with similar statutes. They share the agreement with 22 other states. They have written agreements, that grant residents of these states to allow the same courtesy to gun owners as if in their home states for the licensed carry rule. Soon, the concealed carry law will change to model the laws in Vermont that do not require licenses to carry.

What employers need to know about Ohio Gun Laws

Employers cannot legally forbid their employees from bringing guns in their vehicles and keeping them locked safely in the workplace parking lot. Residents eligible to legally own and possess guns may also store their firearms in their vehicles, in school zones, or in areas of airports that are non-secure including baggage claims, and may concealed-carry in-home daycares, and daycare centers unless a sign prohibiting guns is posted. JD Supra advises employers to become familiar with recent changes in Ohio gun laws that maintain the rights of residents to continue keeping their guns locked in vehicles.

Final thoughts

We’ve provided an overview of the current gun laws in Ohio, with rules that are about to change. It’s wise to continue to check back on Ohio gun laws because of their changing nature. Ohio is a state that regulates the sale, ownership, and use of firearms, but it is also one of the more lenient states that are loosening up the laws about concealed carry. If you plan to visit the state or live within its borders, it’s your responsibility to understand the gun laws with all their caveats and practice gun ownership responsibly and within the constraints of the law.

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