Guns in Schools in Ohio

Ohio prohibits any person from knowingly possessing a firearm in a “school safety zone.”1 Ohio also prohibits the knowing possession in a school safety zone of any object indistinguishable from a firearm, whether or not it is capable of being fired, if the possessor indicates that he or she possesses the object and that it is a firearm, or the person knowingly displays or brandishes the object and indicates that it is a firearm.2 A “school safety zone” consists of any school, school building, school premises, school activity or school bus.3

This prohibition does not apply to a concealed handgun license holder who possesses a handgun in a school safety zone if the person does not enter into a school building or onto school premises and is not at a school activity and is in compliance with federal law.4 This prohibition also does not apply to concealed handgun license holder who possesses a handgun in a school safety zone as the driver or passenger in a motor vehicle while immediately in the process of picking up or dropping off a child.5

A concealed handgun license does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun on premises owned or leased by a college, university or other institution of higher education, unless the handgun is in a locked motor vehicle.6

The superintendent of schools of a city, exempted village, or local school district must expel a pupil from school for a period of one year if the pupil brings a firearm to a school operated by the board of education of the district or onto any other property owned or controlled by the board.7 The superintendent may expel a pupil from school for a period of one year for bringing a firearm to an interscholastic competition, an extracurricular event, or any other school program or activity that is not located in a school or on property that is owned or controlled by the district.8 The superintendent may reduce these disciplinary actions on case-by-case bases in accordance with board policy.9

See our Guns in Schools policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.122(B). ⤴︎
  2. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.122(C). ⤴︎
  3. Ohio Rev. Code § 2901.01(C)(1). ⤴︎
  4. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.122(D)(3). ⤴︎
  5. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.122(D)(4). ⤴︎
  6. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.126(B)(5). ⤴︎
  7. Ohio Rev. Code § 3313.66(B)(2)(a). ⤴︎
  8. Ohio Rev. Code § 3313.66(B)(2)(b). ⤴︎
  9. Ohio Rev. Code § 3313.66(B)(2)(a), (b). ⤴︎

Guns in Vehicles in Ohio

Ohio prohibits any person from knowingly transporting or having in a motor vehicle a loaded firearm that is accessible to the operator or any passenger who has not left the vehicle.1 In addition, no person shall knowingly transport or have a firearm in a motor vehicle, unless the gun is unloaded and the firearm is carried:

• In a closed package, box, or case;

• In a compartment that can be reached only by leaving the vehicle;

• In plain sight and secured in a rack or holder made for the purpose; or

• If the firearm is at least 24 inches in overall length and the barrel is at least 18 inches in length, either in plain sight with the action open or the weapon stripped or, if the firearm is of a type on which the action will not stay open or which cannot easily be stripped, in plain sight.2

The state prohibits the knowing transportation of a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle if the possessor is under the influence of any alcohol or drug, or the person’s blood, breath, or urine contains a concentration of alcohol, a listed controlled substance, or a listed metabolite of a controlled substance prohibited for persons operating a vehicle.3

In 2011, Ohio repealed a provision prohibiting a concealed handgun licensee from knowingly transporting or having a loaded handgun while in a motor vehicle unless it was in a holster or properly stored.4

Ohio law prohibits the operation of a snowmobile, off-highway motorcycle, or all-purpose vehicle while the operator is transporting any firearm unless the firearm is unloaded and securely encased.5

Finally, Ohio prohibits any person from knowingly transporting or having a loaded firearm in a watercraft vessel if the firearm is accessible to the operator or any passenger.6 Persons are also prohibited from knowingly transporting or having a firearm in a vessel unless it is unloaded and carried: a) in a closed package, box, or case; or b) in plain sight with the action opened or the weapon stripped or, if the firearm is of a type on which the action will not stay open or that cannot easily be stripped, in plain sight.7

Notes
  1. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.16(B). ⤴︎
  2. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.16(C). ⤴︎
  3. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.16(D). ⤴︎
  4. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.16(E). Certain rules apply to a licensee who is carrying a loaded handgun and is stopped as a result of a traffic stop or for another law enforcement purpose. See Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.16(E)(3)-(6). ⤴︎
  5. Ohio Rev. Code § 4519.40(A)(5). ⤴︎
  6. Ohio Rev. Code § 1547.69(C). ⤴︎
  7. Ohio Rev. Code § 1547.69(D). ⤴︎

Immunity Statutes in Ohio

Ohio law prevents any member of the firearms industry from being held liable for damages or from being subject to an injunction as a result of the operation or discharge of a firearm. This rule does not apply, however, if the industry member operated or discharged the firearm that resulted in the harm in a tortious manner, or if the industry member sold, lent, gave, or furnished the firearm illegally. This rule also does not apply to a product liability action, or an action for breach of contract or breach of an express warranty.1

Ohio provides limited immunity for owners, operators or users of a shooting range.2

See our policy page on Gun Industry Immunity for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.401(B). “Member of the firearms industry” means any manufacturer, dealer, or importer of firearms, firearms components, or firearms ammunition or any trade association the members of which, in whole or in part, are manufacturers, dealers, or importers of firearms, firearms components, or firearms ammunition. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.401(A)(4), (C)(2), (3). This statute also applies to tort or other civil actions commenced on or after the effective date of this section, or commenced prior to and pending on the effective date of this section, for damages or injunctive relief based upon harm allegedly sustained by any person as a result of the operation or discharge of a firearm. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.401(D). ⤴︎
  2. Owners, operators, or users of a shooting range are not liable in damages to any person for harm allegedly caused by noise at a range or the failure to limit or suppress noise at a range if the owner, operator, or user substantially complies with noise rules prescribed by the Chief of the Division of Wildlife (“Chief”). Ohio Rev. Code § 1533.85(A)(1), (2). These provisions do not confer immunity from civil liability in relation to an owner’s, operator’s, or user’s actions or omissions that constitute negligence, willful or wanton misconduct, or intentionally tortious conduct if those actions or omissions are not the subject of the Chief’s noise rules or are not in substantial compliance with the Chief’s rules. Ohio Rev. Code § 1533.85(A)(2)(d). State and municipal courts are not permitted to grant injunctive relief against the owner or operator of a shooting range in a nuisance action if the court determines that the owner’s or operator’s actions or omissions that are the subject of a complaint substantially complied with the Chief’s noise or public safety rules, whichever apply to the nuisance action. Ohio Rev. Code § 1533.85(C). ⤴︎

Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Ohio

Home Rule

Municipal Authority to Regulate Firearms

The Ohio Constitution grants municipalities (cities and, for some purposes, villages) the “authority to exercise all powers of local self-government and to adopt and enforce within their limits such local police, sanitary and other similar regulations, as are not in conflict with general laws.”1 Charter counties may also be organized as municipal corporations, and possess all the police powers granted to cities and villages.2

Because municipal police powers are constitutionally granted, the Ohio Legislature may not withdraw these powers without an amendment to the Ohio Constitution. The powers may be limited only by the enactment of a general law that conflicts with a given local ordinance.3

Township and Non-Charter County Authority to Regulate Firearms

In contrast to municipalities, townships and non-charter counties derive their police powers from the legislature, not the Ohio Constitution.4 Although Ohio Revised Code Annotated § 504.01 provides townships with a method to exercise limited home rule powers (i.e., police powers), section 504.04 expressly provides that townships may not establish “regulations affecting hunting, trapping, fishing, or the possession, use, or sale of firearms.” Section 302.13(M) grants non-charter counties the authority to make any rule or act that does not conflict with general law or with the exercise of powers by municipalities and townships.

Preemption Statute

Ohio Revised Code Annotated section 9.68(A) first took effect in March 2007. It was expanded in 2018. This updated version of section 9.68(A) (effective December 28, 2019) states:

The individual right to keep and bear arms, being a fundamental individual right that predates the United States Constitution and Ohio Constitution, and being a constitutionally protected right in every part of Ohio, the general assembly finds the need to provide uniform laws throughout the state regulating the ownership, possession, purchase, other acquisition, transport, storage, carrying, sale, other transfer, manufacture, taxation, keeping, and reporting of loss or theft of firearms, their components, and their ammunition. … Except as specifically provided by the United States Constitution, Ohio Constitution, state law, or federal law, a person, without further license, permission, restriction, delay, or process, including by any ordinance, rule, regulation, resolution, practice, or other action or any threat of citation, prosecution, or other legal process, may own, possess, purchase, acquire, transport, store, carry, sell, transfer, manufacture, or keep any firearm, part of a firearm, its components, and its ammunition …. the state by this section preempts, supersedes, and declares null and void any such further license, permission, restriction, delay, or process.

Exceptions

Ohio Revised Code Annotated section 9.68(D) provides the following exceptions:

  • Zoning ordinances that prevent gun sales in areas zoned for residential or agricultural use.
  • Zoning ordinances that are consistent with regulation of other retail businesses in the same area.

Interpretation

The City of Cleveland challenged the 2007 version of section 9.68 as a violation of Article XVIII, section 3. Despite the expansive home rule authority Article XVIII grants to municipalities, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld section 9.68 in 2010.5 The Supreme Court found section 9.68 met each prong of the general law test established by City of Canton v. State,6 providing that a general law must:

  1. be part of a statewide and comprehensive legislative enactment;
  2. apply to all parts of the state alike and operate uniformly throughout the state;
  3. set forth police, sanitary, or similar regulations, rather than grant or limit municipal legislative power; and
  4. prescribe a rule of conduct upon citizens generally.

If a state law is determined to be a general law, a local ordinance must not conflict with it. To determine whether an ordinance conflicts with a general law, a court must consider “whether the ordinance permits or licenses that which the statute forbids and prohibits, and vice versa.”7 For example, in Ohioans for Concealed Carry, Inc. v. City of Clyde,8 the Ohio Supreme Court struck down a local law that prohibited carrying a firearm in a city park because the ordinance conflicted with state law which allows concealed carry licensees to carry anywhere in the state.

Note, however, that when the state prohibits specific activity, a conflict does not necessarily exist when a local government enacts stricter regulation on the same activity. In a case decided before Ohio adopted an explicit firearm preemption statute, the Ohio Supreme Court found that a local law banning possession of certain high-capacity semi-automatic firearms did not conflict with state law in Cincinnati v. Baskin.9 The defendant in Baskin was found in possession of a semi-automatic firearm with the capacity to fire more than ten rounds. The defendant argued that the city’s ban was in conflict with state law which banned semi-automatic firearms with a capacity to fire more than 31 rounds. Although the court found the state law to be a general law, it found no conflict between the local ordinance and the state statute.

The court explained that in order for a conflict to arise, the state “must positively permit what the ordinance prohibits, or vice versa.”10 The court found that the state’s ban on firearms with a capacity to fire more than 31 rounds did not amount to authorization to possess firearms with a capacity to fire 31 rounds or fewer.11 Cincinnati’s ordinance was repealed in 2014.

Immunity

For state laws prohibiting certain types of lawsuits against the gun industry, see our page on Immunity Statutes in Ohio.

Notes
  1. Ohio Const. Art. XVIII, §§ 1 and 3. ⤴︎
  2. Ohio Const. Art. X, § 3. ⤴︎
  3. Fondessy Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Oregon, 492 N.E.2d 797, 799-800 (Ohio 1986). ⤴︎
  4. McDonald v. City of Columbus, 231 N.E.2d 319, 320-22 (Ohio Ct. App. 1967). ⤴︎
  5. City of Cleveland v. Ohio, 128 Ohio St. 3d 135, 2010-Ohio-6318, 942 N.E.2d 370. ⤴︎
  6. 95 Ohio St. 3d 149, 2002-Ohio-2005, 766 N.E.2d 963, at ¶ 21. ⤴︎
  7. Fondessy Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Oregon, 492 N.E.2d 797, 801 (Ohio 1986). ⤴︎
  8. 120 Ohio St.3d 96, 2008-Ohio-4605, 896 N.E.2d 967. ⤴︎
  9. 112 Ohio St. 3d 279, 2006-Ohio-6422, 859 N.E.2d 514. ⤴︎
  10. Id. at ¶ 20 (quoting Cincinnati v. Hoffman, 285 N.E.2d 714, 719 (Ohio 1972) ). ⤴︎
  11. Cincinnati v. Baskin, 112 Ohio St. 3d 279, 2006-Ohio-6422, 859 N.E.2d 514, at ¶ 23. ⤴︎

Locking Devices in Ohio

Ohio law provides that when selling any firearm, a federally licensed firearms dealer must offer for sale a trigger lock, gun lock, or gun locking device appropriate for the firearm being sold.1 Federal law is similar.

Ohio has no law requiring firearm owners to utilize locking devices.

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.25. ⤴︎

Machine Guns & Automatic Firearms in Ohio

Ohio law defines the term “[d]angerous ordnance” to include any “automatic firearm.”1 “Automatic firearm” means any firearm designed or specially adapted to fire a succession of cartridges with a single function of the trigger.2

It is generally unlawful to knowingly acquire, have, carry, or use any dangerous ordnance without a license or permit.3 Ohio law allows the sheriff of a county or safety director or police chief of a municipality to, in his or her discretion, issue a license or temporary permit to acquire, possess, carry, or use dangerous ordnance to any responsible person, so long as the dangerous ordnance was lawfully acquired, possessed, and carried, and is used for a legitimate research, scientific, educational, industrial, or other proper purpose.4 The applicant must reside or have his or her principal place of business in the county or municipality, must be age 21 or over, and it must appear that the applicant has “sufficient competence to safely acquire, possess, carry, or use the dangerous ordnance, and that proper precautions will be taken to protect the security of the dangerous ordnance and ensure the safety of persons and property.”5 The issuing authority may list any “restrictions on the acquisition, possession, carriage, or use of the dangerous ordnance as the issuing authority considers advisable to protect the security of the dangerous ordnance and ensure the safety of persons and property.”6 The issuing authority must forward a copy of all such licenses and permits to the state fire marshal.7

Anyone who is transferring any dangerous ordnance to another must require the transferee to exhibit the license of permit, and must take a complete record of the transaction and forward a copy of that record to the sheriff of the county or safety director or police chief of the municipality where the transaction takes place.8

Ohio law also penalizes any person who, in acquiring, possessing, carrying, or using any dangerous ordnance, negligently fails to take proper precautions to secure the dangerous ordnance against theft, or against its acquisition or use by any unauthorized or incompetent person, or to insure the safety of persons and property.9

Federal law requires machine guns to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and generally prohibits the transfer or possession of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986.10 In December 2018, ATF finalized a rule to include bump stocks within the definition of a machine gun subject to this federal law, meaning that bump stocks will be generally banned as of March 26, 2019.11

See our Machine Guns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.11(K). ⤴︎
  2. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.11(E). ⤴︎
  3. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.17. ⤴︎
  4. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.18(A). ⤴︎
  5. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.18(C). ⤴︎
  6. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.18(D). ⤴︎
  7. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.18(G). For further information about these permits and licenses, see Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.18. ⤴︎
  8. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.20(A)(4). ⤴︎
  9. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.19(A). ⤴︎
  10. 18 U.S.C. § 922(o); 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d). ⤴︎
  11. Bump-Stock-Type Devices, 83 Fed. Reg. 66,514 (Dec. 26, 2018) (to be codified at 27 C.F.R. pts. 447, 478, 479). ⤴︎

Mental Health Reporting in Ohio

Federal law prohibits possession of a firearm or ammunition by any person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or involuntarily “committed to any mental institution.”1 No federal law, however, requires states to report the identities of these individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database, which the FBI uses to perform background checks prior to firearm transfers.

Ohio has no laws requiring the reporting of mental health information to NICS. Ohio requires a probate judge who finds an individual to be a mentally ill person subject to hospitalization by court order to notify the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (“BCII”) of the identity of the individual.2 Similarly, the chief clinical officer of a hospital, agency, or facility must notify BCII if a person becomes an involuntary patient other than one who is a patient only for purposes of observation.3 The officer or judge must use the form prescribed by the attorney general for the notification. The notification must be transmitted by the judge or the officer no later than seven days after the adjudication or commitment.4

State law requires this information to be used for incompetency records checks for concealed weapons permits, and states that this information is confidential.5

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see Background Checks in Ohio and the Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Ohio.

See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). ⤴︎
  2. Ohio Rev. Code § 5122.311. ⤴︎
  3. Id. ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎