Governor DeWine Signs BFA-Backed SB 185 to Protect Second Amendment Rights During Emergencies

On January 3, 2023, Governor DeWine signed SB 16, a bill into which SB 185 was amended in the waning hours of the 134th General Assembly.

Sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer, SB 185 prevents state and local governments from infringing on Second Amendment rights and key hunting, fishing, and trapping activities during declared emergencies. It is the most powerful and comprehensive emergency powers legislation of its kind in the United States.

"Ohio's four million gun owners now have strong protections against government overreach during emergencies," said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA). "We have have seen leaders in other states abuse their power by declaring an emergency and using that as an excuse to infringe Second Amendment rights.

"This comprehensive legislation does not confer any extra rights to gun owners. It simply protects existing rights at a moment when law-abiding citizens may need to exercise those rights."

BFA pioneered this legislation and worked with their partners, the NRA and National Shooting Sports Foundation, to assist Sen. Schaffer and companion bill sponsor Scott Wiggam to write the bill and line up overwhelming support in the House and Senate, with over 60 sponsors and co-sponsors.

"Opponents to SB 185 said that Ohio didn't need such laws because Ohio is a fairly gun-friendly state," continued Rieck. "They said, for the most part, the infringements the bill protects against have not yet happened in this state.

"But that's like arguing that you don't need a smoke detector because your house hasn't yet burned down. We've seen infringements in other states during declared emergencies, and we wanted to be proactive and guard against this happening here. Who knows what the political landscape of the future will look like? Who knows what future administrations may do?"

Passage of SB 185 marks the third of three high-priority bills BFA pushed to the finish line in 2022, the other two being SB 215 for Permitless Carry and HB 99 to exempt school personnel from 700+ hours of police training.

Here are some of the key provisions of SB 185:

Declares that certain deadly weapons or firearms businesses and services are life sustaining “essential” businesses and services for the purposes of safety and security during an emergency.

Provides that no state agency, political subdivision, elected or appointed official or employee of this state or any political subdivision, or agent of this state or of any political subdivision, board, commission, bureau, or other public body established under law may do any of the following during an emergency:

Prohibit, regulate, or curtail the otherwise lawful possession, carrying, display, sale, transportation, transfer, defensive use, or other lawful use of any firearm, ammunition, ammunition-reloading equipment, or deadly weapon;

Require the registration of any firearm, ammunition, or deadly weapon;

Seize, commandeer, or confiscate in any manner, any firearm, ammunition, ammunition-reloading equipment, or deadly weapon that is possessed, carried, displayed, sold, transferred, transported, stored, or used in connection with otherwise lawful conduct;

Suspend or revoke a valid concealed handgun license, except as expressly authorized by law;

Refuse to accept or process an application for a concealed handgun license or for renewal of a concealed handgun license, provided the application for the license or for the renewal has been properly completed and submitted;

Prohibit, suspend, or limit the business operations of any entity engaged in the lawful selling or servicing of any firearm, ammunition, ammunition-reloading equipment, or deadly weapon;

Prohibit, suspend, or limit the business operations of any indoor or outdoor shooting range or any entity engaged in providing deadly weapon or firearms training;

Place restrictions or quantity limitations on any entity regarding the lawful sale or servicing of any firearm, ammunition, ammunition-reloading equipment, or deadly weapon;

Suspend, restrict, or prohibit otherwise lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping activities or business entities conducting or directly facilitating lawful hunting, trapping, or fishing activities.

Provides that if a concealed handgun license is scheduled to expire during an emergency or 30 days prior to an emergency, the license is automatically extended throughout the duration of the emergency plus an additional 90 days.

Specifies that any person, group, or entity adversely affected by any manner of law enacted or enforced in violation of the bill may file an action for damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or other appropriate redress.

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