Ohio firearms and concealed carry laws change Friday, September 30 - What do these improvements mean for you?

by Ken Hanson, Esq.

Ohio concealed carry licensees, and gun owners in general, benefit from multiple changes in Ohio laws that take effect this Friday, September 30, 2011.

Prior to explaining the changes in the laws, I must first take care of some personal business. As readers of this website are aware, last fall I had concerns about John Kasich's commitment to these two bills, should he be elected governor of Ohio. (Both bills were pending in the last legislative session, during the last Ohio gubernatorial election.) I wrote very confrontational posts on this website expressing these concerns.

People are "quick to damn and slow to praise," so I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that my concerns about John Kasich's commitment to these bills were wrong. Multiple elected officials wrote to me to assure me that a Governor Kasich would support and sign these bills. I did not take these reassurances to heart.

I would like to apologize to Governor Kasich and to the GOP officeholders who vouched for him last fall. I was wrong; you were right. Governor Kasich has backed and signed these two strong pro-gun bills.

Having cleared this personal business, I would like to outline the changes that take effect this Friday:

Please understand that your local sheriff, police and judges might not be aware of these changes. Patience and communication is the key.

Change to Ohio's Firearm Disability Law

Effective this Friday, non-felony drug convictions (i.e. misdemeanor and minor misdemeanor) are no longer firearm disabilities under Ohio law. (These non-felony convictions were never disabilities under federal law.) People with non-felony drug convictions do not need to take any action; they will automatically be relieved from disability on Friday. HOWEVER, any drug conviction, felony or otherwise, is still a disqualifier for the Ohio concealed carry license. Persons with non-felony drug convictions may still obtain and fully use other states' concealed carry licenses, so long as that state does not impose a drug conviction disqualifier.

Change to Ohio's Restoration of Rights Law

Ohio's restoration of firearm rights law was previously invalid in the eyes of the federal government. Effective Friday, this should change automatically and the federal government should once again accept any Ohio court order restoring firearm rights. The area that remains to be seen is whether orders restoring firearm rights PREVIOUSLY granted will be honored by the federal government. Our "fix" specifically says it is retroactive to all prior restoration of rights orders. It remains to be seen whether the federal government honors this intent.

Change to Ohio's Car Carry Provisions

Effective Friday, Ohio no longer places explicit restrictions on how someone with a concealed carry license may carry a gun in a vehicle. In other words, Ohio joins the other 48 states allowing concealed carry. Keep in mind that just because Ohio no longer micro-manages vehicle carry does not mean that people are free from potential criminal charges. Firearms in a vehicle still may not be accessible to children, persons under firearm disability etc. Stated another way, if you are alone in your car, whatever you want to do is fine. If you have children in the car, you must carry the handgun in a manner that the children cannot access if you want to be free of potential criminal charges.

Change to Ohio's Liquor Permit Prohibition

Effective Friday, Ohio's liquor permit prohibition, R.C. 2923.121, no longer applies to licensees so long as 1.) they do not consume alcohol in the liquor permit facility, not even a sip, and 2.) they are not already under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The licensee is cautioned, however, that liquor permit facilities are still private property, and private property owners may ban all firearms (or all yellow neckties etc) simply by posting a sign to that effect. The important difference is that a liquor permit facility owner posting a sign is only creating a trespass violation; they are not putting the licensee back under the felony penalties of our liquor permit prohibition.

Please keep in mind that no-gun signs will likely start to go up in the next month, just as they did in April of 2004 when Ohio adopted a concealed carry license. Just as back in 2004, these signs will start to come down as the law goes into effect over the upcoming months. In the meantime, take your business where it is welcome.

CLICK HERE for answers to frequently asked questions about the new law.

Ken Hanson is a gun rights attorney in Ohio. He serves as the Legislative Chair for Buckeye Firearms Association, and is the attorney of record for Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the Heller and McDonald Supreme Court cases. The National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) has awarded him with its 2008 Defender of Justice Award and 2009 Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award. He is the author of The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws, a certified firearms instructor and holds a Type 01 Federal Firearms License.

Media Coverage:

ABC News - Ohio Bars Open Doors Today to Gun Owners

Associated Press - Ohio law in effect allowing guns in bars, arenas
(This will appear in hundreds of news outlets across the state and nation)

Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum - Concealed guns in bars become legal in Ohio

Cincinnati Enquirer - Carrying guns in bars to be legal come Friday
(Be sure to vote in the on-line poll)

Cincinnati Enquirer - Questions and answers on the new gun law

Columbus Dispatch - Guns in bars OK as of today
(Be sure to vote in the on-line poll)

Linda Walker, central Ohio chairwoman for the Buckeye Firearms Association, said violence won't increase.

"People think gun violence is going to go up, there's going to be blood flowing in the streets, or people are going to be shooting people because they got angry with someone," Walker said.

"We went through this same thing when conceal-carry went into law in 2004. After people got used to it, they saw nothing was going to change."

Columbus Dispatch - Loaded with confusion

Fox News - Alcohol and Ammo - Ohio Set to Allow Concealed Weapons in Bars

Kentucky Post - Ohio allows guns in bars, restaurants

Marietta Times - Guns in bars now OK in Ohio

Marion Star - Less restrictive concealed-carry rules are effective today

Middletown Journal - Concealed weapons in bars going in effect

The new law is "a non-issue," said Joe Eaton, southwest chairman for the Buckeye Firearms Association.

"Ohio is finally catching up to the rest of the states," he said. "There are 42 states that allow some type of it (concealed-weapons). No state, once (the law) has been implemented, (has) had a reason to take it away. Ohio's law is even stricter than what's in place in other states."

He noted that in Kentucky, the law allows consumption of alcohol.

"The restrictions we have in place in Ohio will be more strict," Eaton said.

...In regards to sentiments of establishment owners who don't want concealed weapons inside their businesses, Eaton said the decision is up to them, as the law allows establishments the option to ban firearms.

"It puts the choice back on the business owners," he said. "Before (today), any restaurant was automatically off limits. (Now), they get to decide."

...Eaton said in 10 years, "we'll look back and laugh" at fears surrounding SB 17. He said each time gun laws change in Ohio, people have feared bloodshed in the streets.

"Everyone will be out on Friday night, and the only difference is there will be people next to them protecting their family," he said.

Ohio News Network - Law Allowing Guns In Bars Starts Friday
(Be sure to vote in the on-line poll)

While opponents fear a "wild west shootout scenario," Joe Eaton with Buckeye Firearms said that the majority of permit holders are law abiding citizens.

"The licenses holders are among the most honest in the state. They are the ones that are following the laws. Less than one-half of one percent of the license in Ohio have been revoked for any reason at all. Simply having this and expanding the places where we can take our families out to eat is not going to change that at all," said Eaton.

Supporters of the law told ONN-TV that more than 40 state already have a similar rules in place.

Statehouse News Bureau - Law allowing concealed weapons in places that sell alcohol takes effect today

Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman Chad Baus was interviewed for this Ohio Public Radio news report. Click here to listen to the podcast.

The Daily - A round of shots
(several Buckeye Firearms Association leaders are quoted in this article)

"I'm going to Ruby Tuesday's tonight," said Rick Kaleda, 43, a Youngstown software developer who regularly carries a .45-caliber pistol for self-defense. "I can't wait."

Kaleda and other gun advocates said the law corrects what they saw as contradiction in the old rules, which allowed law-abiding, licensed people to carry concealed handguns at places like McDonald's, but drew a line anywhere with a liquor license.

...But some Ohio gun owners say "no gun" signs will only cause them to vote with their wallets. For Linda Walker, 51, who said she carries her 9mm pistol anywhere she's legally allowed, the choice will be simple.

"I've chosen to take my business to a business that will not disarm me," she said.

The gun owners applauding the new law said they welcome the peace of mind it brings.

"It means now I can go to T.G.I. Friday's, or Applebee's or Max and Erma's with my children and I can be perfectly assured I can protect them should anything happen," said Clint Lake, a 46-year-old Columbus software analyst with two children.

Lake said yesterday he and several friends planned to strap on their guns tonight and visit their favorite pizza parlor — its owner supports the law, too — to chow down and (soberly) celebrate the Constitution.

"We're going to freely express our Second Amendment rights," Lake said. "Eat pizza, and drink pop."

The Daily-Record - Group urges opposition to hidden firearms

"Ever since concealed carry passed, we were hearing these doom and gloom predictions from the folks opposed to it," said Rick Kaleda, a Youngstown resident and Northeast Ohio chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association. "... Responsible citizens are going to behave like responsible citizens, and that's who we're talking about with these licenses."

...Proponents of the changes said the former state law was too confusing and could have led to concealed carry permit holders unknowingly breaking the law.

They also believe comparable laws in surrounding states -- Pennsylvania, for example -- have not led to "wild west" scenes of bar shootouts.

"We're talking about the people who abide by the law in the first place and go and get the safety training and understand the law," Kaleda said. "To predict that responsible people are suddenly going to behave irresponsibly is ludicrous. It just doesn't make any sense."

UK Daily Mail - What could possibly go wrong? From today, carrying guns in bars is now legal in Ohio

WBNS (CBS Columbus) - Ohio's Concealed Carry Law Takes Effect

"Because I step into an establishment that has a liquor license does not make me want to go nuts." said Linda Walker, central Ohio chair of the Buckeye Firearms Association.

WCMH (NBC Columbus) - It's Official: Owners Can Carry Weapons In Bars

Proponents of the law said it's a self defense issue and that just because someone can go into an establishment that sells alcohol doesn't mean they're going to be drunk. In fact, the law prohibits any consumption if someone is carrying a gun.

"Now if I've got my family with me, I got a moral obligation to do everything in my power to defend them if a madman comes in and wants to do us harm," said Linda Walker with Buckeye Firearms Association.

It will be up to each business if they want to allow it or not.

..."This is going to extend my self defense rights and it's not changing anything else," said Walker.

WCPO (ABC Cincinnati) -

WDTN (NBC Dayton) - Concealed gun law takes effect Friday

Western Reserve PBS - Guns N' Pubs
(Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim Irvine was interviewed for this 30 minute documentary.)

Watch the full episode. See more Western Reserve Public Media Specials.

WEWS (ABC Cleveland) - Ohio gun owners with concealed carry permits now allowed to bring weapons into bars

WHIZ (NBC Zanesville) - New Concealed-Carry Law in Effect

WKYC (NBC Cleveland) - Reactions to new Ohio gun law now in effect

WSYX (ABC Columbus) - Guns In Bars A Hot Button Issue

Youngstown Vindicator - Coalition urges bar owners to ban guns

But firearms advocates say such comments are not based on facts.

"Ever since concealed-carry passed, we were hearing these doom and gloom predictions from the folks opposed to it," said Rick Kaleda, a Youngstown resident and Northeast Ohio chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association.

"Responsible citizens are going to behave like responsible citizens, and that's who we're talking about with these [concealed carry] licenses."

Zanesville Times-Recorder - Ohio gun law opens to mixed reviews in Zanesville area

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