COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Beginning Monday, a law allowing gun-owning Ohioans the right to carry a concealed handgun without a permit takes effect.
Under the “constitutional carry” bill, signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine in March, Ohioans 21 and older who are legally eligible to own and carry a firearm are no longer required to obtain a concealed carry permit – nor prove competency in operating a firearm – to carry a concealed handgun.
“About half the states now have this provision and this is consistent, I think, with the United States Constitution,” DeWine said two weeks after signing the bill into law.
Under the law, there remain areas where a weapon cannot be carried, such as schools, government facilities, and airports. Businesses and property owners may also post a no-firearms notice. As far as where they can go, if there is no notice, weapons will be allowed into establishments that serve alcohol, but the person with the weapon may not drink.
To carry a concealed weapon legally, people have to be eligible to do so. That includes being:
- At least 21 year old
- Legal U.S. resident
- Not a fugitive, under indictment, or have pleaded guilty to a felony, a drug offense, or a misdemeanor offense of violence
- Not having been committed to a mental institution or determined to be mentally incompetent
- Not the subject of a civil protection order
- Not discharged dishonorably from the military
While gun control advocates and some Ohio law enforcement agencies opposed the bill, removing the permit requirement was the top legislative priority for the Buckeye Firearms Association, a Westerville-based gun rights advocacy group, according to its legislative affairs director Rob Sexton.
A concealed carry license holder himself, Sexton said it took about two or three months from the time he signed up for a class to the time he received a permit. That’s too long, he said, for Ohioans in dire need of protection.
“Ohio’s Constitution reads that people have a right to keep and bear arms for their self defense,” Sexton said. “When you install hurdles in front of that, you prevent people from protecting themselves.”
Opponents of the bill, including Ohio’s Fraternal Order of Police and gun control advocates like Moms Demand Action, argued that the permitless carry bill will lead to more guns and violence on the streets.
Michelle Heym, legislative co-lead for Columbus’ chapter of Moms Demand Action, said the local sheriff’s ability to suspend or revoke an applicant’s license is another safeguard in preventing illegal gun owners from carrying.
“We know that guns can be purchased at gun shows, online, and at illegal gun dealers across the country without a background check,” Heym said while testifying against the bill in February. “Maybe you don’t realize that there is the illegal trafficking of guns in our country, where people can bypass a thorough background check.”
The law also eliminates the requirement that Ohioans “promptly inform” law enforcement that they’re in possession of a concealed firearm – a move that Michael Weinman, government affairs director for the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, said forces law enforcement to “assume that anyone armed is law-abiding and not a threat to an officer.”
Instead, law enforcement officers would bear the burden of asking the person if they have a concealed weapon, to which the gun owner must answer truthfully or be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, the bill reads.
A total of 94,298 Ohioans were issued a new concealed carry permit in 2021 — with Franklin County residents accounting for nearly 7% of the state’s new licenses, according to the attorney general’s office. Data from 2020 indicates about 700,000 Ohioans held active licenses.
Keeping a concealed carry license will now be up to the person. Dean Rieck, executive director of Buckeye Firearms Association, said in an email he plans to keep and maintain his.
“I don’t personally know anyone without a license who plans to start carrying permitless,” Rieck said. “I’m certain many people will, but most don’t announce information like that.”
It’s likely, he said, that people will simply allow their licenses to expire as time goes on, and Ohioans will no longer be required to carry their license on them.