A Criminal Defense Lawyer's guide to Carrying a Gun in Ohio.

The ability to have a firearm carries with it certain restrictions and responsibilities, many of which are regulated by state and federal laws.  The explanation in this guide outlines the laws regulating carrying a handgun in Ohio.

Ohio is an open carry state meaning the open carry of firearms by those who legally possess the firearm is legal in Ohio with or without a license.  However there are many places that you cannot carry a firearm even if you have a license:

Forbidden Carry Zones

  • Police stations
  • Sheriffs’ offices
  • Highway Patrol posts
  • Premises controlled by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (“BCI”)
  • Correctional institutions or other detention facilities
  • Airport terminals or airplanes beyond screening checkpoints or other restricted areas
  • Facilities for the care of mentally ill persons
  • Courthouses or buildings in which a courtroom is located
  • Universities, unless specifically permitted (concealed carry is not permitted but some universities are allowed to permit open carry but it’s up to the university’s discretion)
  • Places of worship, unless the place of worship permits otherwise.
  • Licensed Class D liquor permit premises (restaurant, bar, nightclub), if you are consuming beer or intoxicating liquor or are under the influence.  If you are not consuming, and not under the influence, you may carry unless there is a conspicuous sign prohibiting carry.
  • Government facilities that are not used primarily as a shelter, restroom, parking facility for motor vehicles, or rest facility and are not a courthouse or a building or structure in which a courtroom is located. Specific government entities may allow you to carry by statute, ordinance, or policy. Consult the government entity before carrying into the building.
  • School safety zones- A “school safety zone” includes a school, school building, school premises, school activity, and school bus. For purposes of the statute, a school includes everything up to the property boundary.  As a licensee, you may have a concealed handgun in a school safety zone if you leave the handgun in the motor vehicle, the handgun does not leave the vehicle and, if you leave the vehicle, you lock the vehicle.
  • Under the law, private employers may, but are not required to, prohibit the presence of firearms on their property or in motor vehicles owned by the employer. You should make yourself aware of your employer’s policies before you go to work with a handgun. In addition, the owner or person in control of private land or premises or persons leasing land or premises from the government may post a sign in a conspicuous location that prohibits persons from carrying firearms or concealed handguns.  However, if the firearm is in a motor vehicle while the licensee is physically present or, the firearm and ammunition is locked within the trunk, glove box or other enclosed compartment or container within the vehicle and, the vehicle is in a location where it is permitted to be then a licensee is compliant with the law even if the owner prohibits possession.  Furthermore, a landlord may not prohibit or restrict a tenant with a concealed carry license from lawfully carrying or possessing a handgun on residential premises.

Offenses that Will Prevent you from Owning a Firearm

  • Felonies:  Federal law bans the possession and/or owning of a firearm if you have been convicted of a felony.  Under the law, it defines felonies as crimes punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year.  It does not matter that the sentence imposed was less than one year so long as the crime could have been punished by a sentence of over one year.
  • Domestic Violence:  Even if the domestic violence charge is a misdemeanor it will trigger the firearm ban.
  • If you are subject to a Civil Protection:  The law prohibits possession of a firearm by a person that is subject to a court order that:
    • Was issued after a hearing of which the defendant received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;
    • Restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
    • Includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or
    • By its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury.

        This means that anyone who has an Ohio Civil Protection Order against them probably commits a federal crime by possessing a firearm. This prohibition is not a lifetime ban; you are only banned while subject to the order.  Civil protection orders can be granted for up to 5 years in Ohio.

  • If you are under Indictment for a Felony:  Federal law limits the gun rights of people while their case is pending.  You can posses a firearm but you cannot purchase or receive a gun while your case is pending. 
  • Other People Subject to the Federal Firearm Prohibition:
    • A person who is a fugitive from justice.  Any person who has fled from any State to avoid prosecution for a crime or to avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceeding.
    • An unlawful user of, or person addicted to a controlled substance. This is a confusing category. The regulations define this, in part, as: “A person who uses a controlled substance and has lost the power of self-control with reference to the use of controlled substance; and any person who is a current user of a controlled substance in a manner other than as prescribed by a licensed physician.  This may be an expanding area of criminal law.
    • A person adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been admitted to a mental institution. The regulations define this as people whose mental health condition rendered them incompetent or not criminally responsible as part of a criminal case. It also includes those who have “been determined by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease is a danger to himself or to others or lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.  This includes anyone who has been involuntarily committed by the court.
    • An alien who is unlawfully in the United States or who has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa.
    • A person who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions.
    • A person who, having been a citizen of the United States, renounces his citizenship.
    • A minor under the age of 18 for the purchase of a shotgun or riflePersons less than 21 years of age for the purchase of a firearm that is other than a shotgun or rifle.


Offenses that Will Prevent You from Obtaining an Ohio Conceal Carry Permit 

If you are convicted of any of the offenses that would ban you to own or posses a firearm under federal law, those charges will also prevent you from obtaining a conceal carry permit.  In addition, there are certain misdemeanors in Ohio that will prevent you from obtaining a conceal carry permit as well. 

  • A misdemeanor drug conviction under R.C. 2925 (including marijuana) will prevent you from obtaining an Ohio CCW.  A minor misdemeanor marijuana conviction will not prevent you from obtaining an Ohio CCW.
  • pending misdemeanor drug charge under R.C. 2925 that involves a drug of abuse (including marijuana) will prevent you from obtaining an Ohio CCW.
  • Disorderly conduct:  If you were charged with domestic violence and it was reduced to a disorderly conduct involving some threat of harm or violence (e.g. R.C. 2917.11(A)(1)), you may still face a federal weapons disability even if the disorderly conduct charge was expunged. ***
  • Misdemeanor Offenses of Violence: Being convicted of or charged with certain “offenses of violence” will prevent you from obtaining a conceal carry permit in Ohio.  In addition, being convicted of attempt or conspiracy to commit an offense of violence will also bar you from obtaining a CCW in Ohio.

                     The following offenses carry a 3 year ban on obtaining a conceal carry permit:

  • Assault (when victim is not a peace officer)
  • Menacing
  • Child Endangerment
  • Negligent Assault:  If you have a pending negligent assault charge, you are barred from obtaining a conceal carry permit.  A conviction, however, will not affect your ability to obtain a CCW. 
  • Resisting Arrest: If you have been convicted of resisting arrest, you are barred from obtaining an Ohio CWW for 10 years after the date of the conviction.
  • Assault Where Victim is a Peace Officer:  If you have been convicted of assault where the victim was a police officer or other peace officer, you are barred from obtaining an Ohio CWW for 10 years after the date of the conviction.


***This is a complicated question for the following reasons: Under Ohio Law assuming all of your rights are restored you are eligible for a concealed carry permit. However, under Ohio's concealed carry law the sheriff of the county in-which you live has the sole discretion of determining whether or not to grant your permit. This means he/she can deny your permit even though your case is expunged. The complicated part comes in under federal law there is no restoration process for firearms rights. This means that the federal government does not recognize your expungement and therefore you would not be permitted to own, possess, or carry a firearm. The federal prosecutors have agreed atleast for the time being to not prosecutor cases in Ohio when Ohio has restored your right. They have deferred to Ohio legislature and courts for now. This is not saying that this could not change with an administration change. The short answer is you could try but may not be granted the permit depending on the Sheriff.

Prohibited Weapons

It’s a fifth degree felony in Ohio to possess any of the following weapons (called “dangerous ordinances” in state law):

  • automatic and sawed-off firearms
  • ballistic knives
  • explosives
  • bombs, rocket launchers, grenades, mines, or other military weapons and ammunition; and
  • silencers, unless they’re attached to guns that are authorized for hunting.


Categories: Gun Offenses
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