Weapons Charges in Ohio

Ohio regulates the possession and use of concealed weapons, including guns and explosives.

Ohio is an “open carry” state, where most adults are permitted to buy and openly carry guns without first obtaining a license. However, the state does otherwise regulate who can carry a weapon and where, and some kinds of weapons, including certain firearms, are prohibited. For information about gun laws in other states, see Gun Possession and Use Laws.

Gun Permits and Licenses

In Ohio, adults do not need permits to purchase or openly carry firearms. However, people in Ohio must obtain licenses to carry concealed firearms in their vehicles or on their bodies, and a criminal background check is required for a concealed carry license. If stopped by police, a person carrying a concealed firearm must notify the officer that he or she is armed. Other concealed weapons are prohibited. (Ohio Rev. Code § § 311.41, 2923.12, 2923.125.) For more information, see Gun Permit Laws in Ohio and Open and Concealed Gun Carrying Laws in Ohio.

Children and Schools

Under Ohio’s laws, it is a crime to sell or furnish a weapon to a child under the age of 18, although there are exceptions for hunting and educational programs. People are also prohibited from selling handguns to people (except law enforcement officers) under the age of 21. (Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.21.) So, a parent could buy a gun for a child to use while hunting, but could not buy a gun for a 15-year-old to carry for protection.

Ohio law does not allow people to buy, sell, or possess deadly weapons (any object designed to be used as a weapon or capable of causing death) at schools, on school property or buses, or during school activities. There are exceptions for law enforcement officers, and people who have concealed carry permits may drop off their children at school and attend school events. It is also a crime for a person to possess a fake gun but indicate that it is a real gun anywhere on school property or at a school event. For example, if a student brings a toy gun to high school basketball game, but tells classmates that it is a real gun, the child could be arrested and convicted. (Ohio Rev. Code § § 2901.01, 2923.11, 2923.122.)

Convicted Felons

Ohio law prohibits people who have been convicted of or who are under indictment for violent felonies and drug felonies from possessing firearms, bombs, and explosives. Ohio law does allow people to petition for restoration of their gun rights. (Ohio Rev. Code § § 2923.13, 2923.14.)

Prohibited Weapons

The following weapons (called “dangerous ordnances” under Ohio law) are generally prohibited:

  • automatic firearms
  • sawed-off firearms
  • ballistic knives
  • bombs
  • explosives, including plastic explosives
  • dynamite
  • rocket launchers, mortars, grenades, mines, or other military weapons and ammunition, and
  • silencers.

The ban does not apply to state officers and employees; military personnel; and licensed importers, manufacturers, and dealers. (Ohio Rev. Code § § 2923.11, 2923.17.)

Bars and Drunks

Under Ohio law, people cannot possess guns in places where alcohol is sold. There are some exceptions, including for law enforcement officers, people who have concealed carry permits (although they are not permitted to consume alcohol while carrying), and self-defense. It is also illegal to carry or use a firearm or explosive while under the influence of alcohol. (Ohio Rev. Code § § 2923.121, 2923.15.)

Defacing a Firearm

It is also a crime in Ohio to alter or remove any identifying marks, such as the make, model, or serial number, from a firearm; or possess a firearm knowing that it has been defaced. (Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.201.)

Punishment

Ohio imposes the following penalties for violations of its weapons laws:

  • Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is, in most cases, a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For more information on sentencing, see Ohio Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences and Ohio Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
  • Providing a gun to a child and possession of a weapon in a school safety zone are fifth degree felonies, punishable by six to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Subsequent convictions are punished more severely.
  • Possession of a fake gun is a first degree misdemeanor.
  • Possession of a firearm or explosive by a convicted or indicted felon is a felony of the third degree, punishable by nine months to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Possession of a prohibited weapon is a fifth degree felony.
  • Possession of a firearm in a bar is a felony of the fifth degree if the weapon is openly carried, and a third degree felony if the weapon is concealed.
  • Using or carrying a weapon while intoxicated is a first degree misdemeanor.
  • Defacing a firearm and possession of a defaced firearm are also first degree misdemeanors. Subsequent convictions are punished more severely.

Obtaining Legal Assistance

If you are facing criminal charges as a result of your use or possession of a weapon, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney in Ohio. A criminal conviction can result in fines and time in jail or prison, as well as difficulty securing future employment or passing a background check. An attorney can tell you what to expect in court and how to present the strongest possible defense and protect your rights.

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