Ohio is a traditional open carry state, which means people who legally own firearms may carry them in public places, unless there is a specific prohibition against them. “Open carry” means the firearm is visible to the naked eye and not concealed.
Though open carrying is legal in Ohio, often the sight of a gun in public can cause unnecessary panic and unwanted attention from law enforcement. In fact, The Buckeye Firearms Association warns gun owners about the perils of open carry and doesn’t recommend it.
In June of 2022, however, Ohio became a “Constitutional carry” (also called “permitless carry”) state. What that means is Ohio has waived the licensing requirements for concealed carry. In other words, you don’t need a license to carry a concealed weapon on you. It also means that you no longer have to undergo the eight hours or mandatory training to obtain your gun permit.
If you do decide to exercise your right to open carry, keep the following points in mind to protect your rights and avoid criminal charges.
- Open carry rights extend to vehicles, with one exception. You can store your handgun anywhere in your vehicle, loaded or unloaded, with one critical exception: school zones. You cannot have a handgun in your car when you enter a school zone unless you have a concealed carry permit.
- Know where you cannot bring your gun. The federal government prohibits firearms in schools, courthouses, police stations, post offices and other government property. This applies to both open and concealed carrying.
- Pay attention to posted signs and leave, if asked. Private businesses and property owners can post signs prohibiting firearms. Even if a sign is not posted, a business or property owner can tell you to leave if you have a gun, and you must comply.
- It’s illegal to drink while open carrying. Even if you’re not intoxicated, it is illegal to have a gun while drinking or under the influence.
- Police officers may not be fully aware of your rights. Many police officers are not extremely familiar with open carry rights. If a police officer approaches and questions you, keep both of your hands away from your firearm and in plain view at all times. Move slowly and remain calm. Know, however, that you do not have to tell an officer that you have a concealed weapon on you unless you are specifically asked.
Who can legally carry a concealed or open weapon in Ohio?
Many of the prohibitions for open carry apply to concealed carry in Ohio. Under the new law, you must be at least 21 years old to carry a concealed weapon, and you cannot have a conviction/pending prosecution for:
- any felony, any domestic violence, any drug offense (other than a minor misdemeanor), or negligent assault, or falsification of concealed handgun license
- [any] misdemeanor offense within the past three years of violence, which are the following offenses: Assault, Aggravated Menacing, Menacing by Stalking, Menacing, Arson, Inciting Violence, Riot, Inducing Panic, Endangering Children, Intimidation of attorney, victim, or witness to criminal case, or Escape
- for two or more charges of either Assault or Negligent Assault, or attempted Assault or attempted Negligent Assault [within the last 5 years]
- resisting arrest in the past 10 years
You cannot be a fugitive, have a pending Civil Protection Order or Temporary Protection Order (from any state – not just Ohio), been found mentally incompetent by a court, have a suspended concealed carry license, or be drug or alcohol dependent. Dishonorable military discharges may prevent you from being able to carry a concealed weapon, as can your immigration status.
Is there any reason to get a concealed carry permit?
You may wish to obtain a concealed carry permit if you plan on traveling with your weapon to another state that does not have open carry laws.
If you do get into trouble with the law, remember that every second counts. You need an attorney as soon as possible. Soroka & Associates, LLC, in Columbus, is available 24/7 to answer your phone calls, meet you wherever you are and communicate with the police on your behalf. Contact us now.