Overview of changes to Ohio concealed carry law passed in SB 199

SB 199 has been signed into law by Governor Kasich. It will take effect 91 days after it is enrolled, which is likely to be on or about March 20, 2017. We will have updates leading up to the date new law takes effect, but here is an overview of what passed.

Much of what became SB 199 was contained in HB 48 for most of the last two years. The Senate made changes to the bill which the House did not pass. Because it was the last day of session when all unpassed bills would effectively die, the contents of HB 48 were put into SB 199 and passed.

Gun owners owe a debt of gratitude to the sponsor of HB 48, Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) and the sponsor of SB 199 & SB 180, Joe Uecker (R- Miami Township). These two gentlemen put in enormous amounts of time drafting their bills, and working with a multitude of interested parties. They worked to mitigate concerns of those opposed and supporters, answered questions from their fellow legislators, talked with the media and reviewed many drafts, and amendments (some good, some bad) that others wanted to add to their bills. A good bill sponsor is critical to getting tough legislation passed, and both these gentleman did an excellent job.

SB 199 started out as a simple bill that would allow active military members who have the same or greater training than that required to obtain a CHL to carry a concealed firearm as a license-holder to carry without a license. It is important to note their proof of training is required to be carried with them at all times and highly recommended that armed service members review the Ohio Attorney General Concealed Carry Laws Manual.

The most contested part of the bill protects workers' civil rights from employers who have been discriminating against gun owners.

Sec. 2923.1210. (A) A business entity, property owner, or public or private employer may not establish, maintain, or enforce a policy or rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting a person who has been issued a valid concealed handgun license from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition when both of the following conditions are met:

(1) Each firearm and all of the ammunition remains inside the person's privately owned motor vehicle while the person is physically present inside the motor vehicle, or each firearm and all of the ammunition is locked within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or container within or on the person's privately owned motor vehicle;

(2) The vehicle is in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce adamantly insisted that their few thousand members have the right to dictate what private property employees may possess inside their private automobile. While they claimed private property rights, the policies by default prohibited lawful self-defense when employees were not on company property, not on company time, and not in a company vehicle. Thankfully the legislature sided with the individual, NOT big business or big money. (Remember that nugget come election time.)

The other big changes were originally part of HB 48.

Concealed carry on college campuses will still be prohibited, but colleges will be permitted to authorize people or groups to carry. We have worked with several colleges that want to authorize staff to carry firearms. Other colleges have reached out to us over the past year for assistance drafting policies to deal with concealed carry. Some colleges are open to the idea of anyone with a CHL carrying on campus and others will start with limited permission likely starting with faculty. Education is the key and we invite license holders to help their college understand the issue and craft good policy.

School zones have long been a problem for license holders. Under existing law, a license holder was required to remain in their vehicle. Under the new law the firearm will be required to remain in the vehicle. This does not allow parents to carry guns in schools or sporting events, but it does allow them to drop off a child’s lunch, medicine or homework, or go into a school to sign their child out while the gun remains locked in the car. This new law will work much better for schools, parents, and law-enforcement.

The restriction on carrying in a private airplane will be repealed. This makes legal what is common practice in private/corporate aviation.

It will be legal to carry into day care centers, but day care centers will be able to post their business “no guns” just as any other business does. They are also free to adopt policies limiting firearms. There are specific penalties for carrying in day care centers with no guns policies.

It may be legal to carry a firearm in the non-secure areas of airports (see next paragraph). This is helpful for checking a firearm and helping someone check in or retrieve luggage from baggage claim. It is also important for corporate aviation in all of the airport terminals without security.

There is a provision to allow the governing body of government buildings to enact “a statute, ordinance, or policy that permits a licensee to carry a concealed handgun into the building.”

Airports are generally government buildings, as are many rec centers, libraries, fairgrounds, and common areas in many cities and villages. It is unclear how a license-holder will know what policy is in effect for every building. Since many local governments objected to much better wording to deal with this issue, gun owners may have to call their city/county government and libraries and such to ask for their specific policy. This may also be a reason for BFA PAC to get more involved in city government. File under, “Careful what you wish for.” (smile)

Buckeye Firearms Association Legal Chair Ken Hanson has prepared the following bullet-point list documenting the changes:

  • The Ohio Attorney General is to develop and post on the Attorney General's website a summary of Ohio firearm laws and concealed carry laws as they apply to military members in Ohio.
  • Ohio sheriffs may use concealed handgun license application fees to purchase firearms and ammunition for training for the sheriffs department.
  • Active-duty military members carrying a valid military ID and proof of equivalent small arms training may carry in Ohio without a concealed carry license with the same rights and privileges of Ohio concealed handgun license holders . Active-duty military is defined in 10 USC 101.
  • Modifies Ohio's school safety zone exception for concealed handgun licensees to specify that the licensee may be on school premises for any reason as long as the handgun does not leave the vehicle. It further clarifies that if the person exits the vehicle, as long as the person leaves the handgun locked in the vehicle they are in compliance with the law. It should be noted that this exception continues to apply to handguns only. It does not apply to rifles or shotguns.
  • Specifies that a concealed handgun licensee may be in the unsecured part of an airport while carrying.
  • Allows colleges and universities to recognize concealed handgun licenses and allow concealed carry on their campus.
  • Removes daycare facilities from the list of places a concealed carry license is not valid. A private daycare could still prohibit concealed carry by posting a "no guns" sign.
  • Removes private aircraft from the list of places a concealed carry licensee may not carry a handgun.
  • Allows government bodies to allow concealed carry in the governmental buildings under their authority.
  • Specifies that public and private colleges and universities are immune from liability for the actions of the concealed carry licensee while carrying a handgun on their campus.
  • Provides that public and private employers may not adopt policies prohibiting, or having the effect of prohibiting, concealed carry licensees from having their handguns on their business property, so long as the gun is stored in a locked container, compartment or trunk. Note that this applies to all licensees having a handgun on the business property.
  • Allows the sale of firearms to active duty military members without regard to their age. Current law prohibits those under 21 from purchasing a handgun.

Click here to read the exact language of the new law, which, to repeat, will take effect on or about March 20, 2017.

As is customary, we will post a series of articles detailing the Act in the days leading up to the effective date of the new legislation. Readers are advised to sign up for email alerts to keep posted on changes to the law and other important news.

Jim Irvine is Chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association Political Action Committee (BFA-PAC). He is also Board President of Buckeye Firearms Association, and recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award," the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award," and the SAF's 2015 "Defender of Freedom Award."

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