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Understanding Ohio’s Shall Notify Law

There was a recent comment on the Concealed Carry Inc. national page in reference to Ohio’s ‘Shall Notify’ law.  The reader commented on an article ‘Law Enforcement -To Inform to not Inform’  that discussed various laws across the country pertaining to the requirements when dealing with law enforcement during a stop.  Here is the comment from the reader:

“had and officer today tell me I have to inform him, even though I wasn’t carrying my firearm. I was taught in my CCW that it is only *necessary* when I have my firearm in my vehicle, that I don’t have to say anything if I don’t have my firearm, in the vehicle. Am I ill-informed, I live in Ohio by the way”

Let’s first look at the actual pertinent Ohio Statute:

2923.12 Carrying concealed weapons.

(B)(1) If the person is stopped for a law enforcement purpose and is carrying a concealed handgun, fail to promptly inform any law enforcement officer who approaches the person after the person has been stopped that the person has been issued a concealed handgun license and that the person then is carrying a concealed handgun;

It is quite clear that a violation of the statute involves the concealed carrier to fail to inform the officer 1)after being stopped 2)that he/she has been issued a concealed handgun license AND 3)that the person is carrying a concealed handgun.  There is no additional law in Ohio requiring the concealed carrier to notify the officer if he/she is not carrying the firearm at the time of the stop.

The above question is not uncommon and the incident brings up a couple universal lessons we can learn from.

LESSONS

  • While the vast majority of instructors are knowledgeable and stay up to date on concealed carry laws, some do not.  So always understand the law pertaining to your concealed handgun license.  A good way to think of this is ‘Trust But Verify’.  Knowledge is power and will allow you to be confident that your actions are legal and responsible.
  • Sometimes what is legal isn’t always the best practice.  In my classes, I always mention that because of numerous reasons it is a great idea to inform the officer even if you don’t have your firearm with you.  Something like “In case you run my name to something, I just wanted to let you know that I do have my concealed handgun license, but I don’t have my firearm with me today” can go a long way in opening up communication during the stop and showing that you are wanting to cooperate during the stop.  Lets put it this way, it definitely cannot hurt to make this statement.
  • Law enforcement can sometimes get it wrong.  It can be a new officer or just an officer who misreads the law, and this results in a mistake.  Rarely is the officer’s error intentional or malicious.  Arguing is usually not the best path to resolution.  If you are sure the officer is making an error, respectfully requesting a supervisor come out to the scene is a prudent course of action.

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