When the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 12 in order to establish a permit system for carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), there were major changes made to the Ohio Revised Code. These changes will have a significant impact upon police officers and their interaction with the public. The purpose of this summary is not to offer legal interpretation, but rather to outline some of the changes as they relate to gun owners. It is my hope that this information will help identify issues concerning the prospective permit holders. Anyone who wishes to apply for a CCW permit is advised to read the entire Bill for themselves, and the author is not responsible any misinterpretation resulting from this article.
House Bill 12 Highlights:
* The Ohio Peace Officer Training Council (OPOTC) will be the overall governing entity of CCW permits. They will mandate the qualifications, fees, maintenance of records, and provide forms and materials regarding CCW. They will also produce a pamphlet that will be provided to Sheriffs, gun dealers, and the certified CCW instructors. The pamphlet will contain the laws and requirements a CCW permit holder must know (and will be tested on) prior to permit issuance. OPOTC will enter the issued permit information into LEADS (Law Enforcement Automated Data System) for use by law enforcement, which will allow officers to confirm permit information like a driver's license.
* County Sheriffs will receive the completed CCW application forms and certification, take fingerprints and a picture of the applicant, and conduct a (BCI / NCIC) background and competency check. Unless the Sheriff's office can find reason to deny the permit, the Sheriff will forward the information to OPOTC for entry and the permit will be issued.
* The permit will be valid up to four years, providing it is not revoked or suspended. At expiration, the CCW permit holder has 30 days to renew, during which time the permit is still valid. The renewal requires that the permit holder pass a new competency test, and submit to a new background check, as well as an updated photo and fingerprints.
* Permit Fees will be no more than $45.00 for the initial application, less for renewals. Fees will be waived for retired law enforcement officers.
* Training requirements are specific, and total 12 hours. The training must be received from an NRA or OPOTC certified instructor. The applicant must pass a written test as well as a practical competency exam to be certified by the instructor. The testing is repeated at license renewal, but the training is not. Current police officers do not need additional training or testing to qualify for a CCW permit.
* The permit applicant must be a resident of Ohio, 21 years of age, not a fugitive, and not under indictment or convicted of any felony, drug violation, or misdemeanor crime of violence. The applicant cannot be the subject of a TPO, CPO, or adjudicated as a mental patient, or under treatment for mental problems.
* A permit holder that is charged with any felony, drug or alcohol violation, misdemeanor crime of violence, or is the subject of a TPO, CPO, or treatment for a mental disorder will immediately have their permit suspended or revoked.
* Current law enforcement officers will be automatically considered CCW permit holders, and afforded the same rights and protections, but without the same restrictions. This provision will reduce agency liability in instances where officers carry a weapon off duty, particularly when not acting as a police officer. Additionally, this gives officers the option to carry a weapon in states that have CCW permit reciprocity with Ohio. However, there is currently no plan to issue police officers an actual CCW permit for use outside of Ohio.
* Retired law enforcement officers do not need to take the 12 hour training or a certification test. A CCW Permit will be issued and the fees will be waived, so long as the retired officer can provide documentation of his law enforcement experience. There are similar benefits for Military members.
* No locality (city, township, etc.) may adopt or continue laws that conflict or restrict the statewide CCW permit laws set forth in House Bill 12.
* Private employers may restrict or prohibit the carry of a concealed weapon, and are immune from liability caused by such restrictions. Carrying a concealed weapon can be prohibited by businesses that display a standardized sign at the entrance. Violation of these policies by a permit holder is a trespassing infraction.
* Ohio will recognize CCW permits of visitors from other states with substantially comparable requirements. Those states must also honor reciprocity for Ohio permit holders.
* There are numerous prohibitions regarding carrying a weapon, even for permit holders. Some examples of locations where CCW is not allowed are: churches, schools, child care facilities, government buildings, aircraft, open-air arenas and rooms where alcohol is served.
* Permit holders may carry a weapon in their vehicle. The weapon must be either secured in a holster in plain sight, or locked in the glove compartment, or in a case that is in plain view. The subject must remain in the motor vehicle, and keep his hands in plain sight when approached by an officer. The permit holder must always carry his permit with him, and notify the officer of his CCW. The subject may not remove, hold, or touch the firearm while in the motor vehicle, unless ordered to do so by the officer.
* House Bill 12 includes many new laws and penalties regarding the CCW permit, as well as any crime relating to a gun. Most violations involving a weapon are now a felony (e.g., theft of a gun), and penalties have been increased. There are also penalties for false statements regarding CCW permits, and the possession or creation of counterfeit permits.
House Bill 12 is 141 pages long and has created many new laws that will be applied and enforced by law enforcement personnel. Although the OPOTC and county Sheriffs are not yet prepared to issue permits, the implementation of HB 12 is to begin on April 7, 2004. Many training facilities are already filling CCW permit qualification classes through the end of the year.
It is reasonable to believe that there will be problems and delays with initial implementation of the CCW permit system in Ohio. OPOTC, Sheriffs, and all of law enforcement must first train its personnel and create the necessary infrastructure to issue permits and enforce the new laws. It would be prudent to wait for the permit system to become fully established before applying if you expect the process to be trouble free.
We have worked many years to have Concealed Carry in Ohio. This law is not perfect, and it will probably be amended several times over the next few years. Now is the time for prospective permit holders to be smart and patient. We are finally able to CCW, and it is going to happen before the end of 2004.
While you wait, perhaps it will make you feel better to know the spirit behind the new CCW laws. The last sections of HB 12 close with the intentions of the General Assembly:
"...the General Assembly hereby declares its intent to recognize both of the following:
(A) The inalienable and fundamental right of an individual to defend the individual's person and the members of the individual's family;
(B) The fact that the right described in division (A) of this section predates the adoption of the United States Constitution, the adoption of the Ohio Constitution, and the enactment of all statutory laws by the General Assembly and may not be infringed by any enactment of the General Assembly."
This website has good information and FAQs that contains more specific details regarding Ohio's new CCW laws and permit qualifications:
copyright 2004 by the author, all rights reserved.