Current Gun Laws in Ohio: Quick Reference Guide

Given the prominence of gun regulations in our state and national political conversation, here is a quick review of the laws currently on the books in Ohio.

How Does Ohio Rank?

The Giffords Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence gives Ohio’s gun laws a D, placing the state at 21st out of 50 states.

Ohio’s rate of gun deaths per capita is 12.9, higher than the national average of 11.7

Ohio continues to update its gun laws to make their access and presence more widespread. Most recently, in December 2017, Ohio lawmakers enacted Senate Bill 199, which exempts active military from the requirement to obtain a concealed carry handgun license, permits concealed weapons in day care centers, and allows college campuses and government buildings to choose to permit the carrying of concealed handgun.

Restrictions on Sales

A purchaser must be 18 years old, or 21 to purchase a handgun.

Purchasers may not be:

  • Fugitive from justice
  • Under indictment or convicted felon of violence or drug trafficking
  • Drug dependent, in danger of drug dependence or chronic alcohol abuser
  • Have an adjudication of mental incompetence, have been committed to a mental institution, or have been found by a court to be mentally ill and ordered to an institution.

The state does not require firearms dealers to obtain a state license, limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time, impose a waiting period on firearm purchases, or regulate ammunition sales.

Background Checks

Only professional firearms dealers in Ohio are required to conduct a background check through the FBI’s database; this is known as the gun show loophole. The background check goes further than Ohio’s basic restrictions to include domestic abuse, illegal citizenship and stricter past criminal behavior restrictions such as having been convicted in any court of a crime which is punishable by a term of more than one year or a misdemeanor punishable by more than two years.

Concealed Carry Laws

Ohio is known as a “shall issue” state, meaning it must issue a license to anyone who meets the criteria and passes the courses and training. The laws for obtaining a concealed license are just slightly stricter than for obtaining any gun.

Disqualifying charges include:

  • convicted or plead guilty to a felon
  • indictment or charge of misdemeanor of violence offense
  • indictment or charge of negligent assault with a dangerous ordnance or falsified or altered license to carry a handgun
  • convicted, indicted, or plead guilty to a drug offense
  • within ten years has not been convicted, plead guilty to, or adjudicated a delinquent child for resisting arrest
  • has not been adjudicated as mentally defective, committed to a mental institution or found by a court to be mentally ill subject to hospitalization

Ohio Lacks The Following:

Red Flag Laws – would allow a court or family member to initiate a process to confiscate a firearm from someone who poses a threat to themselves or others.

Expanded Relinquishment Lawswould require those who become invalid to own or purchase to hand over their guns unless law enforcement has found them to be used or threatened to be used in domestic violence report. A domestic abuser is not forced to give up possession of firearms not used in the reported incident despite a background check invalidating a future purchase because of the conviction.

Assault Weapon, High Capacity Magazine, or Other Dangerous Accessories Ban – It should be noted that a silencer/noise suppressor is only granted for the use of hunting. Ohio does not allow the sale of ammunition to anyone who is deemed invalid to purchase a firearm. There are also no laws prohibiting armor piercing ammunition or accessories like bump stocks to allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like automatic weapons.

Juvenile Possession and Childhood Access Prevention Laws – If a child under the age of 18 attempts to purchase a gun the child could be charged with a second degree misdemeanor, but no laws dictate the punishment of possession.

Mandatory Background Checks for all Gun Sales – Ohio has not even partially closed the gun show loophole.

Mandatory Waiting Period and Gun Purchase Limit Laws – There are no restrictions in Ohio.

Now What?

There are several bills that have already been introduced in the Ohio legislature that would address some of these shortcomings. To find out more, visit our summary of gun reform bills.


Sources: The Giffords Center, The Washington Post, and The Ohio Coalition against Gun Violence