Current Gun Laws in Ohio: Quick Reference Guide

Ohio At A Glance

The Giffords Law Center awarded Ohio with a ‘D’ letter grade for 2018. This landed the state at 22nd on both the national gun law strength and gun death rank scales. The state also came in at a 13.7 gun death rate per 100,000 people average, above the national average of 11.9. The Center notes that, while the state did pass some effective legislation as it pertains to guns in 2018, state lawmakers have still failed to take any initiative to implement many otherwise basic measures.

How Can One Purchase a Gun in Ohio?

Ohioans have three distinct options for purchasing guns in Ohio:

  1. Authorized private dealers: Federal law requires these private businesses to obtain a license through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in order to sell firearms. Ohio issues no state-specific license or permit. 
  2. Private purchases: Though Ohio prohibits the selling, lending, giving, or furnishing of a gun to a person prohibited by law of having one (as well as the possession of a gun with the intent to dispose of it in violation of one or more of these referenced acts), the state does not require a federal background check for the purchaser in a private transfer. All applicable age and trafficking-related laws are still enforced. 
  3. Gun shows: Ohio has no specific laws regulating gun shows. All relevant laws guiding private purchases (see above) are still applicable.


Ohio Currently Has the Following Relevant Laws:

Note: This list does not comprehensively lay out every single gun-related law in Ohio Revised Code, but rather, is meant to provide a high-level glance at guns in the state. If interested, please refer to Ohio Revised Code for all further inquiries and/or questions:

  • Concealed carry: Ohio is a “shall issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement must issue a permit for an individual to carry a handgun so long as said individual meets certain qualifications, one of which includes a comprehensive safety and training course. Permits issued on or after March 14, 2007 last for a duration of five years before needing renewal.
  • Locking devices: Similar to federal law, Ohio requires that, when selling any firearm, a federally-licensed firearms dealer must offer for sale a trigger lock, gun lock, or gun locking device that can be used with the firearm being purchased
  • Minimum age: Ohio law prohibits the purchasing of a firearm by anyone under 18 years of age, as well as the selling or furnishing of a firearm to anyone under 18 years of age. Ohio law also prohibits the purchasing of a handgun by anyone under 21 years of age, as well as the selling or furnishing of a firearm to anyone under 21 years of age. Only federal age restrictions for the possession of a firearm apply in Ohio.
  • Prohibited persons: Ohio prohibits the sale and possession of firearms to individuals falling into one (or more) of several categories, including:
    • 1. Fugitives from justices
    • 2. Individuals under indictment for or convicted of any violent felony offense, or who have been adjudicated a delinquent child for an offense that would have been a violent felony offense if the age requirement was met
    • 3. Individuals under indictment for or convicted of any felony drug offense, or who have been adjudicated a delinquent child for an offense that would have been felony drug offense if the age requirement was met
    • 4. Individuals that are alcohol or drug dependent, or in danger of becoming so
    • 5. Individuals under adjudication for mental incompetence or as a mental defective, committed to a mental institution, committed to a mental institution by court order, or involuntarily mentally ill
  • Trafficking: Ohio penalizes those individuals who personally alter/remove any identifying marks on a firearm, as well as those individuals knowingly possessing and/or having reasonable cause to believe that a firearm that they possess has had these identifying marks altered/removed

Ohio Currently Lacks the Following Relevant Laws:

Note: This list does not comprehensively lay out every single gun-related inaction that is not present in Ohio Revised Code, but rather, it is meant to provide a high-level glance at guns in the state. If interested, please refer to Ohio Revised Code for all further inquiries and/or questions:

  • Minimum age: Ohio does not restrict the minimum age for possessing a firearm.
  • Multiple firearms: Ohio has no law prohibiting the purchase or sale of multiple firearms at once.
  • Open carry: Ohio does not restrict the carrying of unconcealed, loaded firearms in public.
  • Prohibited persons: Ohio has no law for seizing firearms from those individuals who are no longer legally able to possess them.
  • Retention: Ohio has no law requiring the retention of background or sales records, and does not require either such thing to be reported and/or retained at any local or state agency.
  • Trafficking:
    • Ohio does not penalize a firearms dealer for failing to conduct a federally-mandated background check on a purchaser.
    • Ohio does not prevent an individual from giving false evidence and/or information about their identity during the purchasing of a firearm.
  •  Waiting period: Ohio has no such laws governing any such thing.

So, What Did 2018 Look Like?

Nationally-speaking, 2018 was a stand-out year in recent memory for gun control legislation at the state level. The Giffords Law Center reported that more than half of all states in the United States passed at least one bill pertaining to gun control. In total, they reported that 69 gun control measures were passed by the states, more than any given year since 2012. And yet, nine restriction-loosening bills were still passed around the country. Action, or rather, complete inaction, at the federal level, remains another issue entirely.

Turning to Ohio, specifically, the Ohio General Assembly and former Governor John Kasich fought frequently throughout the year over several gun-related measures. Perhaps the most notable of these fights happened during the lame duck period over a “Stand Your Ground” bill (i.e. House Bill 228) that was introduced, vetoed, and later passed via veto override as a more watered down version of its original self. The bill shifts to the state the burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a person charged with an offense that involved the use of force against another did not use that force in defense of self, in defense of another, or in defense of that person’s residence. It also expanded the circumstances under which a person has no duty to retreat in defense of self, in defense of another, or in defense of the person’s residence, as well as reducing certain concealed handgun offenses to minor misdemeanors, and eliminating the mandatory posting of signs that warn against the conveyance of a deadly weapon and/or dangerous ordnance on a specific premises. Other bills that passed included House Bill 79 and Senate Bill 81, which respectively allow for tactical medical professionals to carry firearms while on duty, and allow for veterans to forego the civilian training requirements during the concealed carry permit process. A number of other bills all failed to make it past the committee stage of the legislative process.

More info: Learn About Ohio Gun Reform Bills You Can Support

Source(s): The Giffords Law Center, The New York Times, WOSU Public Media