Akron traffic stop is latest example highlighting need to modify the concealed carry duty to notify requirement
In the fight to change the law regarding the duty to promptly notify a law enforcement officer that one is legally exercising their right to bear arms in the State of Ohio, Buckeye Firearms Association is often asked what harm is the current law actually causing.
We have, of course, pointed out that no one can define what "promptly" means, and that there are no standards for when and how to notify. We've pointed out that this creates unnecessary confusion and tension between citizens and officers. We've explained that, when pulled over, most people are already a little nervous and distracted. They are thinking about why they are being stopped, not about their firearm.
And we have given examples of times when people have been arrested for not remembering to notify "promptly" enough for whatever officer they happen to be interacting with.
A recent traffic stop involving a concealed handgun license-holder provides yet another example of the need to fix Ohio's law.
From WFMJ (NBC Youngstown):
An Akron man who police say ran a red light while driving through Warren ended up getting more than just a traffic citation on Wednesday.
Police say 33-year-old Tavares Alexander was pulled over after failing to stop at a red traffic light at Tod and Fifth Avenues.
An officer who wrote him a traffic ticket was walking away when he learned from another officer that Alexander has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
When asked if he had a gun, Alexander told police that it was in the car’s console.
The officer found the handgun and arrested Alexander for violating an Ohio law that requires holders of CCW permits who encounter law enforcement officials to notify those officers that they are in possession of a weapon.
Alexander was handcuffed and taken to Trumbull County Jail...
Did you catch that? The officer conducted the entire stop, delivered the ticket, and was returning to his cruiser when notification of the driver's status as a CHL-holder finally arrived, presumably from his dispatcher. At no time during this traffic stop did the fact that a firearm was present any threat to the officer. And yet this CHL-holder, having simply forgotten to obey the law as currently written, must now suffer the expense of defending himself against this charge.
The WFMJ article also notes that another area case, involving a woman who was charged for "failure to notify" after having called the police to get a wanted man out of her house, has been resolved after a judge dismissed the charge against her. But yet again, this woman should never have been put in the place of having to defend against this charge in the first place.
Ohio is one of only nine states to put the burden of notification on the person carrying a firearm, and efforts are underway to reform this law. The Ohio House of Representatives recently-passed HB 227, which removes the ambiguity of current law by clarifying that a person must notify an officer only when asked during a stop. Act now - tell your state Senator you expect them to act quickly to pass HB 227 and send it to the governor for his signature.
Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.