Q: Can a person under 21 years of age possess a handgun in Ohio?
A: Yes. It is not a crime for a person under 21 years of age to possess a firearm. However, it is a crime for another person to “furnish” a firearm to a person under 21 years of age, except for use in lawful hunting, sporting, or educational purposes such as instruction in firearms or handgun safety, care, handling or marksmanship under the supervision or control of a responsible adult. A person under age 21 is not allowed to buy or attempt to buy handguns or handgun ammunition, but generally can buy and possess long guns and long gun ammunition.
Q: Can I carry a firearm outside of my home in Ohio?
A: Yes. The Ohio constitution protects the “open carrying” of firearms, but some restrictions apply. For example, you cannot openly carry a firearm in a motor vehicle unless you are also licensed to carry a concealed handgun. Carrying concealed firearms is a licensed activity in Ohio. For more information, visit the Ohio Attorney General’s website: www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Law-Enforcement/Concealed-Carry.
Q: If I lose my gun, must I report it?
A: Yes. Failing to report, without delay, the loss or theft of a firearm or dangerous ordnance is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
Q: Must I store my firearms under lock and key?
A: Not necessarily. Ohio does not have any “safe storage” laws that specifically require firearms to be kept under lock and key when not in use. However, leaving firearms where children can access them could be an offense under a number of criminal statutes.
Q: Can I be sued if I shoot someone in self-defense?
A: Yes, but the suit may not necessarily result in a verdict against you. Ohio has enacted a version of the “castle doctrine,” which is designed to help shield gun owners from civil liability in self-defense shootings. The castle doctrine generally prohibits a plaintiff from recovering money in a civil suit if the plaintiff is injured while attempting to commit a serious crime. For more information about the castle doctrine, visit: www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Law-Enforcement/Concealed-Carry.
Q: Does Ohio have “stand-your-ground” laws?
A: No. So-called “stand-your-ground” laws remove the duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense in a public place. Because Ohio has not enacted “stand-your-ground” laws, a gun owner must retreat before using deadly force in a public place, as long as it is safe to do so.
Q: May I use a firearm against an aggressive dog in Ohio?
A: Yes. Ohio law specifically states that you may kill a dog that is chasing or approaching you in a menacing fashion, demonstrates an “attack” attitude, or has already bitten a person or a person’s livestock. This law does not apply, however, to a violent dog that attacks another person’s dog or cat.
Q: What are some of the locations I may not shoot a firearm?
A: County, township, and city ordinances typically restrict the discharge of firearms to locations that are outside of city limits, and to sites that are more than a certain distance from structures and neighboring property. Those ordinances vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another. With few exceptions, gun owners may not discharge firearms on school property, within cemeteries, and while on public roads.
Q: Do I need insurance if I decide to own or carry a firearm?
A: No, but many gun owners buy insurance or fixed-benefit plans. Ask your insurance agent if any property loss or liability coverage is offered under your homeowners, renters or umbrella insurance policy. Third-party products are available that purport to offer legal or financial assistance to gun owners in the event of a self-defense shooting. Evaluate such programs carefully before purchasing so that you understand precisely what is being offered, and confirm that the benefits meet your anticipated needs.
Q: May I be fired for bringing a firearm to work if I have a concealed handgun license and my employer has not posted a “no firearms allowed” sign?
A: Yes. Ohio is an at-will employment state, and your employer may reprimand you or even terminate your employment for bringing a firearm to work, regardless of whether the employer has posted a sign.
Q: Can I buy and use “hollow-point” bullets in Ohio?
A: Yes. Ohio has no state or local restrictions on the purchase, possession or use of hollow-point ammunition for general marksmanship and/or self-defense purposes. Hunting regulations may vary. For more information, visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ website: http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/huntingandtrappingregulations.
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Derek A. DeBrosse, an attorney with the Columbus law firm, Barney DeBrosse, LLC, and Sean M. Culley, an attorney with the Dayton law firm, Green & Green Lawyers, LPA. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.