Second Amendment and Gun Rights of Ohio Residents

Ohio Lawmakers Amend Gun Crime LawsThe Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which grants Americans the right to keep and bear arms, has been a constant topic of debate since it’s ratification in 1791.

Originally, construed to allow individuals the right to keep and bear arms connected to necessary militia service, the United States Supreme Court held in 2008 that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms unconnected with service in a militia. Further, the Supreme Court held that an individual may use arms for traditionally, lawful purposes, such as self-defense within a home.

Despite the Supreme Court’s relatively recent clarification of the Second Amendment, there continues to be much debate regarding gun ownership, including whether a person should have an individual right to own a firearm, whether individual firearm ownership contributes to gun violence, and whether additional restrictions should be placed on individuals to prevent mass shootings and other catastrophic events.

Why is there a debate in the first place?

There involves considerable debate regarding the Second Amendment for multiple reasons. First, the Second Amendment was drafted over 225 years ago. The United States was an entirely different place in 1791. The American Revolutionary War, during which the United States ceded from Great Britain, ended only eight years prior. The United States had been involved in a domestic war called the Northwest Indian War against numerous Native American tribes for five years. Also, the United States only consisted of fourteen states.

Regular, non-military Americans, living in this new country with wild and unchartered terrain, were often the only line of defense in their town or village during times of war. This historical context has caused many persons to believe the drafters of the Second Amendment intended for individuals to keep and bear arms connected to a militia only.

Advocates of gun restrictions and limitations often assert contemporary Americans are no longer responsible for the defense of their towns and villages. Americans have law enforcement and military personnel to respond to emergency situations and threats to security.

Pro-gun advocates (persons who support the individual right to bear arms) assert the nature of threats have changed since 1791. While an individual is not responsible for the protection of an entire village or town, he or she is responsible for self-defense and the defense of their home.

Gun Rights in Ohio

The state of Ohio would be considered a “Pro-Gun” state. There are few restrictions and prohibitions regarding gun ownership in the state of Ohio.  The Ohio State Constitution provides:

The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.

An individual age 21 or older may purchase handgun without a permit in the state of Ohio. Without a license the individual may only carry the weapon at his or her home. To carry or possess the weapon outside of the home, the individual must obtain a permit. Ohio is considered a “traditional open carry state”, which means with valid permit a gun owner may openly carry a firearm in public or engage in concealed carry, where the firearm is not visible to the casual observer.

To qualify for a permit, an individual must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Must be at least 21 years of age
  2. Must be an Ohio resident for 45 days
  3. Must be a resident in home county for 30 days
  4. Must complete required education course and obtain a certificate
  5. Pass a criminal background check
  6. Pass a mental competency check

Common Firearm Related Charges

Despite the pro-gun laws in Ohio, there are several criminal charges that may result from unlawful possession of a firearm, including:

  • Improper Discharge of a Firearm: While Ohio does have relatively relaxed gun laws, there are several places an individual may not fire or discharge a firearm, including the occupied habitation of another, a school zone, within 1,000 feet of a school building (with intent to cause physical harm, panic, or fear), over a cemetery, and a public road or highway.
  • Using Firearms While Intoxicated: An individual may not possess or use a firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is not required that the individual be intoxicated or have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08.
  • Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon: Generally, an individual convicted of violent felony or any drug-related offense or under the indictment of a violent felony or any drug related offense may not possess a firearm

Other Persons Not Permitted to Possess a Firearm

There are also specific classes of persons who may not possess a firearm. Should the following classes of persons be found in possession of a firearm, he or she will be subject to criminal charges:

  • Drug dependent person
  • Chronic Alcoholic
  • Person who has been adjudicated mentally incompetent
  • Any person who has been committed to a mental institution
  • A fugitive from justice

Conclusion

The debate regarding gun rights and the limitations with undoubtedly continue. To avoid criminal charges, it is important to be knowledge about the constant legislative changes.

Brian Joslyn of Joslyn Law Firm is an experience criminal defense attorney and member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). He proudly represents clients facing all types of firearm offenses, including carry a concealed weapon, improper discharge of a weapon, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Brian Joslyn and the attorneys of the Joslyn Law Firm represent individuals facing firearms charges throughout Ohio, including Franklin County, Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County.

If you are facing any firearms charges, contact the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a confidential review of your case.

Proposed Ohio Bill Would Allow Concealed Carry Without Permits

Weapons

Ohio legislators have proposed a bill earlier this legislative session that would allow some residents in the state to carry a concealed firearm without a permit and without the appropriate training.

According to Cleveland.com, House Bill 147 would allow anyone age 21 or older in Ohio to carry any concealed firearm not specifically banned by law. This, however, would not apply if the person has been banned from legally possessing a firearm, such as a convicted felon.

The bill, which was introduced last week, would be a significant shift from the existing law. Currently, those who wish to legally carry a concealed firearm must obtain a permit from their local sheriff’s department. Before this can be acquired, he or she must complete eight hours of safety training.

A person could be charged with carrying a concealed weapon under Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.12 if he or she does not have a permit and knowingly carries or has:

  • A deadly weapon besides a handgun
  • A handgun other than a dangerous ordnance
  • A dangerous ordnance

This gun crime currently is punishable as a minor misdemeanor, misdemeanor of the first degree, felony of the fourth degree or felony of the third degree, depending on the specific circumstances of a case. This could mean jail time, expensive fines and more restrictions.

The permit and training processes would not be required if the proposed bill actually became a law. This means a large portion of the population would be able to legally possess a concealed firearm without having to undergo a training process.

The proposed bill also would prohibit law enforcement officers from searching people or seizing the weapon simply because they are carrying a legal firearm. Landlords could not prohibit tenants from carrying or possessing a gun.

Under current law, if a person is carrying a concealed firearm and is stopped by law enforcement, the individual must immediately inform the officer that he or she has been licensed to carry a handgun and currently possesses the gun, according to Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.12(B).

If a person is carrying a concealed firearm and is stopped by law enforcement, according to current law, he or she must not knowingly disregard or fail to comply with any lawful order of the officer while the person is stopped.

Additionally, if a person is carrying a concealed firearm and is approached by law enforcement, the person must keep their hands in plain sight while interacting with the officer. He or she also cannot remove the gun from a holster nor have any sort of contact with the firearm, unless told by the officer to do so.

If a person violates any of these requirements, he or she could be charged with a minor misdemeanor, misdemeanor of the first degree or felony of the fifth degree. In addition, his or her concealed license may be suspended.

All of these requirements can become a little hazy if the bill passes. Once it is not a requirement to have a permit, the way law enforcement officers handle citizens who are carrying concealed weapons could change. Some of the laws will remain the same, including where possession is prohibited.

For instance, possession of a firearm in a school zone, no matter the lack of permit requirement, still is a violation. Carrying a concealed firearm in a courthouse or a building in which a courtroom is located also would be a violation.

If the bill is approved, Ohio would become the sixth state to change its laws allowing more residents to own and possess concealed firearms. For more information about the proposed legislation, read House Bill 147 here.