OH Div. of Liquor Control clarifies position re: Class D and CCW

Ohioans For Concealed Carry and the OFCC PAC are pleased to announce that efforts to receive clarification with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control over the law's requirements for Class D liquor permit holders have been met with complete success.

At issue was the question of whether groceries and convenience stores which possess Class D liquor permits, but which do not dispense liquor by the drink, were automatically rendered off-limits to concealed handgun license-holders by House Bill 12.

In an April 5 letter to 415 liquor agency stores, Superintendent Rae Ann Estep correctly informed class D permit holders that "the Concealed Carry Bill does not specifically address the issue of carrying concealed weapons into spirituous liquor agency stores." She went on to state that
"since agency stores are private businesses, the issue [of whether or not to post signs banning concealed carry] is within the sole discretion and business judgement of each spiritous liquor agency store."

Unfortunately, the letter ended in with a statement that confused many of the letter's recipients:

"...No policy can authorize the carrying of a concealed weapon in any room or open air arena where a class D liquor permit in force."

This statement was also repeated in a "Superintendent's Message" on the Division's website in the month of May, and some store owners told OFCC the statement was repeated or reinforced when they called the Board for clarification.

There are many business-owners at Ohio groceries and convenience stores who do not wish to post "no-CCW" signs, believing they discriminate against CHL-holders and advertise defenselessness to criminals. Unfortunately, up to now, they were under a false impression that they had a legal obligation to post these signs.

OFCC PAC Vice Chairman Chad Baus has been working for more than two months to correct this problem with the Division of Liquor Control, and can now announce that the matter has been corrected.

A Division official confirmed Tuesday that the confusing statement has been removed from the Liquor Control website.

A June 24 letter from this official states as follows:

    ..."As private employers, the Class D permit holders are governed by Ohio Revised Code Section 2923.126(C)(1) regarding whether they choose to post a sign stating that no person shall carry a concealed weapon onto their property."

    "If class D permit holders have chosen to post a sign other than the sign the Division was statutorily required to provide them [the Firearms Warning sign described in 4301.637(B)], this was not done upon the direction of the Division."

Division stresses that any legal interpretations regarding compliance with statutory requirements should not be asked of the Division, but should be addressed to the business' private legal counsel.

As we have long maintained, the choice to post "no CCW" signs is strictly a private one for non-serving Class D permit holders. Unless they dispense liquor for on-premises consumption (served by the drink), Class D permitees are under no legal requirement to post "no CCW" signs.

"Persons obtaining Ohio concealed handgun licenses are trained as to where they can and cannot go," said Baus. "CHL-holders know that the law currently forbids them entry into any establishment that holds a Class D liquor permit and which serves liquor by the drink. We are pleased that the Division of Liquor Control has acted to confirm the facts for all interested parties."

"OFCC volunteers will now set about to inform stores listed on the Do Not Patronize While Armed database of the facts," said Joe Eaton, OFCC's Business Education Task Force Coordinator. "We know this will be a relief to many grocers and convenience store owners who have posted signs out of confusion about the law."

For a look at the many stores which may be misinterpreting the law, read our Do Not Patronize While Armed database.

NOTICE: This story has been updated at the request of the Division of Liquor Control. The letter from Division Counsel is now available for grassroots volunteers wishing to share it with business-owners in their area:

Download June 24 letter from Division of Liquor Control (.pdf)

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