Ohio Enacts Constitutional Carry Law

Republican Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill into law on Monday that will allow persons in the state to carry concealed handguns in public without a permit or training requirements. The law also provides that Ohioans will no longer be required to tell a law enforcement officer they are armed during routine traffic stops.

The new law goes into effect 90 days following the governor’s signature and covers all persons 21 or older who are not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm by state or federal law. Ohio has now become the 23rd U.S. state to allow concealed carry without a state permit.

Residents who desire a concealed carry permit must still receive eight hours of approved training and pass a federal background check. A state permit may still be something some residents desire in order to obtain reciprocity in some other states recognizing an Ohio permit while traveling. Permit owners may also have the benefit of an expedited background check process when purchasing a new firearm.

Under current Ohio law, a motorist stopped by a law enforcement officer while possessing a firearm must disclose that fact to the officer without being asked. Failure to disclose possession can result in being charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, possibly resulting in a fine up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, and suspension of a concealed carry permit.

Supporters of the new law have pointed to the guarantees provided by the U.S. and Ohio constitutions of the right to keep and bear arms. They argue that neither constitution requires prior training and say that permissive carry laws will make citizens safer by eliminating the costly and time-consuming application and training process.

DeWine told voters while running for governor in 2018 that he would support a law like the one he just signed. The 2019 shooting in Dayton that left nine dead slowed the process, and also led DeWine to discuss the possibility of pushing for “red flag” gun control measures in the state. Ultimately, DeWine said that he had a “tough decision” regarding the newly-passed measure.

As conservatives praised the passage of the new law, the Ohio Democratic Party predictably accused DeWine of caving in to “extremists and special interests.” They also said the law comes at the expense of families and law enforcement officers.