Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill, known as the “Constitutional Carry” law, on March 14 that changes gun carrying restrictions in the state, which will officially go into effect June 13.
After the bill goes into effect, anyone who is legally allowed to purchase a handgun in Ohio is allowed to carry in a concealed manner without going through training or a second background check in certain places.
“As long as you’re able to buy a handgun within the state of Ohio, you’re allowed to carry that handgun outside of your home and in your car in a concealed manner,” Michael Herner, president of Ohio University’s Second Amendment club, said.
With the updated provisions, anyone who is 21 or older can carry a handgun — loaded and concealed — without going through training or a process at the sheriff’s office. To legally purchase a gun, citizens have to go through a background check that gets either confirmed or denied by a firearms dealer.
Currently, the state’s guidelines require citizens over 21 to complete eight hours of training that includes time on a gun range and in a classroom to learn about handling and operating a gun. That course is instructed by someone certified through an organization, including the National Rifle Association and others.
After receiving the certificate, a person could take it to a county sheriff’s department and fill out an application. Typically, fingerprints are taken and a background check is performed, which helps the department determine if someone is able to own and carry a gun, Herner said.
The office can either confirm or deny anyone but, if approved, they could go back to the department and receive a card similar to a driver’s license that enables them to carry.
The new law removes the training and the second background check when purchasing and owning a handgun.
Ohio is now among several other states in the country to pass a law loosening gun restrictions with influence from groups like the Ohio Gun Owners organization.
“Our organization has been lobbying in front of the legislature and committees … and has been in constant contact with them. This is one step in the right direction,” Chris Dorr, director of the Ohio Gun Owners organization, said. “Quite frankly, gun owners are owed a whole lot more by this Republican supermajority than what they have been delivered.”
Both Herner and Dorr believe training is something all people should seek before operating a weapon, but being told to be trained isn’t necessary.
People don’t need a state mandate to go get training in order for gun owners to realize that it’s common sense to get training, Dorr said.
Kevin Martin, chief instructor at the Hilltop Gun Club in Athens County, and Jim Salzman, a board member, disagree with Dorr.
“I think the best thing I ever did was take a concealed carry class to be able to feel safer about carrying,” Salzman said. “Twelve hours (of training) was reduced to eight hours. I didn’t even like that reduction.”
Martin was Ohio’s first concealed carry weapons instructor and said he’s seen the most dangerous mistakes take place in a controlled range.
“Now Ohio's legal citizens can just strap on any handheld weapon and hide it away upon themselves and go about their business anywhere in our great state packing heat,” Martin said in an email. “I don't think we will revert back to the Wild Wild West of the 1880s, but I can assure that non trained non range officer certified handgun operators getting into a shootout will be sending bullets off target.”
Salzman said those who decide to purchase and carry a gun have a responsibility to learn how to safely use it.
“If you want to carry, you have a responsibility to train and to be safe in your handling of a firearm,” Salzman said in a message.