The right to keep and bear arms is one of the bedrocks of our Constitution. But while the 2nd Amendment seeks to protect this right, state and federal governments often regulate the manner in which firearms may be owned, carried, transported, and used. It is a fine line that one must toe to ensure that they are complying with the laws related to firearms and other weapons.
Types of Firearm/Weapon Offenses
Like many states, Ohio has enacted several criminal laws related to the use and transport of weapons and firearms, most of which are contained in Section 2923 of the Ohio Revised Code. Examples include:
- Carrying Concealed Weapons – §2923.12
- Possession of a Firearm in Beer Liquor Permit Premises – §2923.121
- Illegal Conveyance or Possession of Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Ordinance in School Safety Zone – §2923.122
- Illegal Conveyance or Possession of Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Ordnance into Courthouse – §2923.123
- Transporting or Storing a Firearm or Ammunition on Private Property – §2923.1210
- Having Weapons While Under Disability – §2923.13
- Possession of Deadly Weapon While Under Detention – §2923.131
- Use of Firearm or Dangerous Ordnance by Violent Career Criminal – §2923.132
- Using Weapons while Intoxicated – §2923.15
- Improper Handling of Firearms in a Motor Vehicle – §2923.16
- Improper Discharge of Firearm at or into a Habitation or School Zone – §2923.161
- Discharge of a Firearm on or near a Prohibited Premises – §2923.162
- Unlawful Possession of Dangerous Ordnance – Illegally Manufacturing or Processing Explosives – §2923.17
- Failure to Secure Dangerous Ordnance – §2923.19
- Unlawful Transaction in Weapons – §2923.20
- Possessing a Defaced Firearm – §2923.201
- Improperly Furnishing Firearms to Minor – §2923.21
- Underage Purchase of Forearm or Handgun – §2923.211
Penalty Enhancement for Firearms/Weapons
Not only can the improper handling or use of a firearm result in its own criminal charge, but the use or mere presence of a firearm or deadly weapon during the commission of another criminal offense can result in enhanced penalties, including mandatory prison time.
- Aggravated Robbery (§2911.01(A)(1)) – displaying, brandishing, using, or indicating use of a deadly weapon during a theft offense
- Robbery (§2911.02(A)(1)) – having a deadly weapon on one’s person or under one’s control during a theft offense
- Aggravated Burglary (§2911.11(A)(2) – having a deadly weapon on one’s person or under one’s control while trespassing in an occupied structure
Firearm Specifications – include mandatory prison sentences that are added to the underlying sentence upon conviction:
- 6 years if automatic or muffled firearm (§2941.144)
- 3 years if firearm used, displayed, brandished, or otherwise indicated (§2941.145)
- 1 year if firearm on or about offender’s person, even if not used (§2941.141)
- 5 years if drive-by shooting, in addition to any aforementioned firearm spec (§2941.146)
While carrying a concealed weapon is generally prohibited in Ohio, qualified individuals may be permitted to carry a concealed handgun upon application and licensure (see ORC §2923.125). However, even license holders are prohibited from carrying in certain locations, including law enforcement buildings, courthouses, areas beyond screening checkpoints in airports, school safety zones, correctional institutions and detention centers, certain government buildings, liquor permit premises (if you are consuming alcohol), and certain private premises where a clearly posted sign prohibits concealed weapons. Furthermore, when license holders come into contact with law enforcement officers, they are required to promptly notify the officer and keep their hands in plain sight at all times. Failure to abide by these laws can result in criminal charges.
Restoring Firearms Rights
Convictions for certain types of criminal offenses, including felonies, drug offenses, and acts of domestic violence, can lead to the state or federal government taking away your constitutional right to bear arms. While it seems appropriate that the government would want to disarm persons convicted of serious offenses, what becomes of those that turn their lives around and go on to become productive members of society?
Luckily for those persons, Ohio laws (§2923.14) permit them to apply to the court to have their right to own and possess firearms restored. It is not something that the courts or government take lightly, so having a strong advocate in your corner can increase the chances of success in having your firearms rights restored.