Ohio's Temporary Emergency License (TEL) to Carry

The Temporary Emergency License (TEL) to carry a concealed handgun has caused considerable confusion. The low numbers of issued licenses indicate that there is little demand, people don’t understand the procedures for obtaining one, or they are too big of a hassle to obtain.

Even if you already have your CHL, you need to understand the TEL. You are the expert people come to in time of need.


When Ohio’s concealed carry law took effect in April of 2004, Ohio became a “shall issue” concealed carry state. One could now obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun, and the local sheriff was required to issue it to any qualified person.

At the same time, the affirmative defenses (AD’s) to carry a concealed firearm were removed. Prior to 2004 one could carry a concealed handgun, but could be charged with a crime. You would have to admit that you were carrying, but could argue that you had a good reason that would justify a “prudent person going armed.” The problem was that the burden of proof was on the accused and no one really knew what reasons a court would find “prudent."

As poor as that system was, it did sometimes work, and in real times of need, many people carried. Unfortunately, some people have failed to realize that the AD’s have been repealed. Now if you are carrying a concealed handgun without a license, you are committing a felony.


The TEL was crafted as a “replacement” to the AD’s. It will allow someone to legally carry a gun before completing the 12 hours of state mandated training and waiting on a sheriff to issue a regular license, which can take up to 45 days.

There are a few key differences with the TEL and a regular license.

  • It can only be obtained from your County Sheriff. (Not an adjacent county)
  • There is no training requirement.
  • It is issued “immediately.” (The Sheriff does an instant background check first)
  • You must submit proof of need. (The most misunderstood part.)If you have a temporary protection order, that is considered sufficient need. This has worked well.The other option is a sworn affidavit that you have a need. This one has caused problems. Note that it does not require you to state your need, only that you state that you have a need.

Why don’t you need to explain your need?

Imagine a woman is the victim of a stranger rape. As the rapist leaves, he tells her, “If you tell anyone, I’ll come back and kill you.” The woman does the right thing and goes to a hospital with a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Unit and gets examined. A forensic exam (rape kit) is performed and the evidence is handled properly. She will then go home with a friend. Eventually, she will need to go back home, but she will still fear for her life.

She can’t get a protection order, because she does not know her attacker, but she has a real need. All she has to do is state so in her affidavit.

A woman, who is still traumatized from the rape does not have to go through the embarrassment of explaining the situation to the strange deputy taking her application. She has suffered enough, and she simply needs a license issued so she can immediately start carrying her gun. She needs to be able to defend herself, not re-live her terrifying ordeal.

Of course your reason does not have to be this extreme; it just needs to convince you that you have a need. That is what your affidavit will say.

The anti-gun crowd claimed this provision in the law would be abused. However, the low numbers prove that this is yet one more item that they were wrong about.

The TEL is only valid for 90 days, and cannot be renewed for four years. It is only to allow someone to carry legally until they can obtain training and apply for a regular license. It carries the same privileges and restrictions as a regular license.

Because of the high rate of assault and murder by people whom a restraining order is supposed to restrict, some states require that battered women or those issued a protection order are given information about getting a concealed carry license. Ohio has no such law.

Be a good friend. If you know someone who has a need to carry, they may not know about the TEL or how to obtain it. Help them out. It is likely that no one else will, and their life may depend on it.

To download a TEL application, click here.

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