SB17 (Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix) and HB54 (Restoration of Rights) – Just what do they do?

by Jim Irvine and Ken Hanson

It has been a long wait, but critical legislation for gun owners has finally been passed by the Ohio legislature. It is important to note that the law will remain unchanged for several months and citizens are reminded to comply with existing restrictions until the new law becomes effective.

After the bills passed the House and Senate, it was necessary that SB17 and HB54 be officially signed by Speaker of the House Bill Batchelder and Senate President Tom Niehaus. That process was completed yesterday, Tuesday, June 21. Each are now considered an "Act," and will be presented to the Governor for his consideration.

Governor Kasich has 10 days from receipt of the Acts to either sign or veto them. Kasich has indicated that he will sign the bills. If he takes no action within 10 days of receiving the Act, it becomes law without his signature.

The new laws will become effective 90 days after Kasich signs them. During this time, updates are prepared for law books and online tools used by attorneys, judges and others who enforce our laws. We will have information on our site about the effective date of the new laws after the Governor signs them and the date has been determined.

Law enforcement officers (LEOs) should receive updates on the changes. It is important to note that laws are continually changing and there will be some officers who are not properly briefed on the changes or will simply not digest the changes. There will inevitably be a few issues that arise. It will go a long way toward educating an officer if CHL's remain calm and professional while LEOs deal with learning the new law. Courtesy is a two way street.

The following is provided in response to the readers of our website, who have submitted numerous requests for a primer on SB17 and HB54.

What is the deal with restaurant carry?

Ohio law currently prohibits valid licensees from carrying into businesses that have certain liquor licenses. (Bars, restaurants, golf courses, arenas, stadiums, reception halls, hotels...in general, any place where, if they are open during serving hours, you could buy a drink and consume it then and there.)

If SB17 is signed by Governor Kasich and goes into effect, licensees would not violate the law by entering these facilities, so long as the person is not already under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and does not consume alcohol while at the facility.

Can the owners of these facilities still prohibit me from entering?

Yes, the same as any private property owner, the owners of these facilities may post a sign prohibiting the possession of firearms on premises. There is no "magic sign" in Ohio – any sign that would place a reasonable person on notice that they were not to be in the facility is sufficient. (Please note that the "Title 43" liquor control signs, typically on white cardboard with black print, that begin "Warning, if you are carrying a firearm..." are not signs that ban you from carrying into a facility.)

Aren't the facility owners liable for gun owners on their property?

No, current law says that the owners of property ARE NOT liable for the actions of gun owners on their property, and are not liable for allowing or prohibiting firearms on their property. See R.C. 2923.126(C)(2)(a). The law stays the same post S.B. 17 – no liability.

I've heard that insurance companies are requiring facilities to post signs.

We heard the same story back when HB12 first passed in 2004, and were never once able to document an insurer requiring this. It always turned out to be a property owner trying to "duck" licensee outrage over the posting of a sign. In point of fact, large chain restaurants have been doing business in states with restaurant carry for decades. If they aren't posting signs in those other states, why would Ohio be different?

What happens if a licensee consumes while at the facility?

If a licensee consumes, even a sip, then they have failed to meet the exception created by SB17, and are guilty of a very serious felony.

Does SB17 do anything else?

Yes, all of the restrictions placed upon a licensee carrying a loaded handgun in the car are removed. Once this law goes into effect, the licensee will have full discretion to decide how to carry their firearm in a car.

The licensee needs to be aware, however, that general provisions regulating firearms still apply. For instance, if a child in the car accesses the firearm (child endangerment) or if a person under firearm disability in the car accesses the firearm, criminal charges are entirely likely. Best practices would dictate that if you are in a vehicle with other persons present, you need to maintain control of the access to that firearm.

I was previously convicted of violating Ohio's car carry restrictions.

The law provides you a special procedure to have this conviction erased. The procedure is available ONLY to persons who were convicted of violating the licensee car carry restrictions previously. It is NOT available to persons who were unlicensed and were convicted of improper transportation.

So, if you were convicted of a crime that is no-longer a crime post-SB17, you may apply to have the conviction removed. Please note that this is a different process than Ohio's main "sealing of record" statute and is available to car carry violators only. Consult your attorney.

Wasn't there another law that was passed with restaurant carry?

Yes, HB54 was also passed and sent to Governor Kasich. This law makes technical changes to Ohio's restoration of rights statute. These changes are necessary so that the federal government once again accepts Ohio orders restoring firearm rights.

Does the restoration of rights bill do anything else?

Yes. HB54 also clarifies that Ohio only considers FELONY drug convictions as firearm disabilities. Recently, Ohio and the federal government began counting misdemeanor drug convictions as firearm disabilities, even a conviction for minor misdemeanor marijuana or possession of rolling papers. This law clarifies that only FELONY drug convictions count against you.

I have a previous court order restoring firearm rights. Do I need to do anything?

This remains to be seen. The bill contains language that the "fix" to our restoration statute is to apply retroactively to all restoration orders granted in Ohio. The law is mixed on whether law changes like this can be applied retroactively. We will keep you up to date.

When do these changes go into effect?

In general, laws go into effect 90 days after final action by the Governor (either signature by the Governor or the time to sign the bill expires). Both of these laws will go into effect on September 30, 2011. We have placed a "countdown clock" in the upper right corner of the web site that will expire as these new laws go into effect.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman. Ken Hanson is the Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair.

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