Do law-abiding citizens need permission to carry a handgun? If SB 215 were to become law, Ohio would join 21 states without a concealed carry license requirement.
Ohio SB 215:
Republican Senator Terry Johnson from Ohio’s 14th District introduced Senate Bill 215. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Hoagland, Rulli, Huffman, S., Schaffer, Blessing, McColley, Romanchuk, and Lang, making up one-third of the current Senate Republicans.
SB 215 is a “constitutional carry” bill. Constitutional carry, also called “permitless carry,” or even “unrestricted carry,” can mean slightly different things depending on some specifics in the wording of the state’s laws. However, in general, these terms are used to describe states’ laws that do not require that a person obtain a permit before carrying a handgun in certain public areas.
States With Constitutional or Permitless Carry Law:
Currently, 21 states have permitless or constitutional carry laws that do not require a license to carry a concealed handgun. These states are:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota (resident concealed carry only)
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Again, each state has unique restrictions, and you should know your individual state’s gun laws even if it has permitless carry laws.
Ohio is missing from that list.
States With Legal Permitless Law for Open Carry Only:
Ohio is on a list of fifteen states that require a permit to carry a concealed handgun but do not require a license to carry it openly. What is open carry?
Well, it’s the same thing as concealed carry, but without a piece of clothing covering the gun.
These states are:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
Yep, in fifteen states, you can holster a gun and carry it in plain view without a permit. But if you want to put a t-shirt over it, you need to get permission from the government. I know. It makes absolutely no sense.
I think people recognize the absurdity. This may be one reason 5 states removed the permit requirement in the first 8 months of 2021.
When you look at the country as a whole, 35 states, or 60%, allow open permitless carry of a handgun (some state-specific restrictions apply).
What Would SB 215 Change?
Remove CHL Requirement:
As currently written, SB 215 would remove the permit requirement for concealed carry in Ohio. The resident who previously walked down the street open carrying their Glock 19 without a permit would be free to cover their self-defense tool with a thin cotton shirt.
And they could do it without having to first jump through a series of hoops or risk jail time!
Permitless carry also removes the financial burden facing residents who want to carry a gun for self-defense legally, but do not have the money to pay for training and licensing fees.
Remove Duty to Notify Requirement:
SB 215 would also remove Ohio’s unnecessary “duty to notify” or “duty to inform” law. These laws either require the person to inform law enforcement that they are carrying their handgun whenever they are stopped by law enforcement or require the person to notify if the officer asks.
Ohio’s law requires the concealed carrier “promptly” notify the law enforcement officer upon being stopped. The penalty for failure to comply is a first-degree misdemeanor charge and the potential of a 2-year suspension of your license.
Proponents of the law argue that this law is necessary because it makes law enforcement safer. However, no available data supports this claim. Furthermore, a moment of critical thinking exposes the absurdity of this argument. The people who tell an officer they are carrying a firearm because they do not want to violate the law are NOT a threat to officers.
This July, a woman in Warren, Ohio, called the police to her home and asked them to remove a man from the property. During the incident, dispatch notified the officer that the reporting party had a concealed handgun license. The officer asked the woman if she was carrying her firearm. She said she was.
The officer issued her a court summons and seized her license and firearm, leaving her defenseless. Why did he do it? We can only speculate. But it certainly wasn’t for “officer safety.”
Additionally, the duty to notify law is vague and leaves the term “promptly” open for interpretation. Thus, it is a useless law that doesn’t protect law enforcement or citizens.
By the way, you would still have the right to notify law enforcement that you are carrying a concealed handgun if you feel like it’s a courtesy or thinks somehow it will get you out of a ticket.
What SB 215 Doesn’t Do:
SB 215 doesn’t eliminate Ohio’s concealed carry licensing program. Ohio’s Concealed Handgun License (CHL) has reciprocity with all but 11 states and D.C., so it may make sense to get a license for Ohio residents who travel to other states and want to carry their handguns. In other words, permitless carry wouldn’t mean you couldn’t get a CHL if you wanted one.
As someone who regularly trains with a firearm and works to provide firearm training, I understand and acknowledge the importance of firearm training. Yet, I don’t support licensing programs that require a law-abiding citizen to pay money and satisfy an arbitrary training requirement before exercising the most fundamental right of self-defense.
There are definitely people (you may be one) who disagree with my take on duty to inform and training requirements. These are simply my opinions, you’re free to share yours in the comments.
Will The Bill Succeed?
Your guess is as good as mine. A similar permitless carry bill HB 227, was introduced in the House of Representatives in March and has since seen no action. While I am hopeful, I am not optimistic about the success of SB 215. Ohio’s Republican majority and flip-flopping Governor have not always stood with gun owners.
That said, we did get “stand your ground law” passed despite it requiring an override of Gov. Dewine’s veto.
So there is hope.
And if the pro-gun momentum rolling across the country could carry some of the spineless Republican lawmakers along, perhaps there is a longshot.
Maybe in the not too distant future, I’ll be updating this post with a report that permitless carry is the law of the land in Ohio.
Staying up to date on all the changes to state gun laws is a pain that can result in significant consequences. Therefore, I highly recommend the Legal Boundaries By State Book. It is the most comprehensive resource for state and federal laws that impact carrying your firearm legally. It is available in hard copy and a digital version as well. Access to the digital version comes with every book, and the digital version is updated anytime there are changes to state gun laws. This book is way more than a reciprocity map; it is a critical resource for gun owners.