Ohio’s New Concealed Carry Law

February 2004

New legislation has been enacted in Ohio that allows individuals to obtain permits to carry concealed handguns. 1 "Handgun" is defined by the legislation as "any firearm designed to be fired while being held in one hand." Governor Taft signed the bill into law on January 8, 2004. The law goes into effect April 7, 2004 and it permits county sheriff’s offices to issue a concealed handgun permit to those who, among other things, are at least 21-years-old, complete a 12-hour firearm training course, or prove similar competency, and pass a criminal background check using fingerprints. The permit must be renewed every four years.

The possession of a concealed handgun permit does not allow permit holders to carry guns everywhere. Concealed handguns are banned from government buildings, schools, airports, universities, day care centers, bars or restaurants with liquor licenses and premises where the owners have taken action to prohibit guns.

However, if an employer is not specifically exempted, anyone who obtains the concealed handgun permit is allowed to carry a handgun at all times even at the work place. This is true unless the employer otherwise specifies in a work policy. The law does not "negate or restrict" a rule, policy or practice of a private employer prohibiting firearms on the employer’s premises or property, including the private employer’s prohibition of firearms in a motor vehicle owned by the private employer. Private employers are immune from civil liability for any loss related to a licensee bringing a handgun onto the premises or property of the private employer, unless the private employer acted with malicious purpose, and for any loss related to the private employer’s decision to permit or prohibit licensees from bringing a handgun onto the premises or property of the private employer.

Private property owners and persons in control of private land or premises may prohibit persons from carrying concealed handguns onto their property by "posting a sign in a conspicuous location" prohibiting persons from carrying firearms onto the premises. The legislation does not, however, provide specifics as to the location, size or exact language of such a sign. A person who knowingly violates a posted prohibition is guilty of criminal trespass, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree that carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $250.00 fine.

The practical import of this legislation is that many employers now need to have a policy prohibiting employees from carrying handguns or other weapons onto the work place premises. Employers, private property owners and tenants who desire to prohibit handguns on their premises now need to post signs in conspicuous locations that notify visitors, guests, and customers that handguns and other weapons are not permitted on the premises. It is interesting to note that at least one group, Ohioans for Concealed Carry, a proponent of the concealed carry legislation, claims that it plans to list on its web site the names of businesses that ban guns.

If you have questions regarding the Ohio concealed carry law or would like assistance putting together a workplace weapons policy and posting, please contact Mekesha Montgomery at (513) 651-6118, mmontgomery@fbtlaw.com, or Kyle R. Grubbs at (513) 369-4906, kgrubbs@fbtlaw.com. If you have inquiries regarding any other labor, employment, or real estate matters, please contact any of the members of the Labor and Employment or Real Estate departments.

1 Under current Ohio law, civilians are prohibited from carrying handguns in public unless they are visible. They may keep loaded guns in their homes or transport weapons, unloaded, in the trunk of a car. Ohio will become the 46th state to allow carrying concealed weapons in some form.