Making Sense of Ohio's Gun Laws

A youth shooting a Mauser hunting rifle.
PretoriaTravel/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Ohio is one of the least restrictive states when it comes to buying and owning firearms. With a few exceptions, anyone over 18 (21 for handguns) can buy and own a rifle, shotgun and/or handgun. No permit is required and there is no waiting period. The only gun license required in Ohio is to carry a concealed handgun. Getting a hunting license in Ohio is different.

The Right to Bear Arms

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects U.S. citizens' right to bear arms. Adopted in 1791, this part of the Constitution has its roots in English Common Law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689.

Ohio state law supports a citizen's right to bear arms. The Ohio Constitution, written in 1851, states, "The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power."

Permits Required to Buy/Own Guns

No permits are required in Ohio to buy or own guns. Completing a brief questionnaire and showing a government-issued photo ID is required to purchase a gun in Ohio to make sure that the purchaser meets the residency requirements and is not subject to one of the firearms prohibitions (see below.) There is no waiting period to buy firearms in Ohio.

Firearm Prohibitions

Certain persons are prohibited from buying or owning a firearm in Ohio. These include:

  • persons under 18 years (21 years for a handgun)
  • persons under indictment or convicted of a felony
  • persons who are fugitives from justice
  • persons under indictment or convicted of a drug-related offense
  • drug-dependent persons or alcoholics
  • persons confined to a mental institution or deemed by a court to be mentally incompetent

Buying Guns in Neighboring States

Residents of Ohio who are not prohibited from buying and owning firearms may purchase a handgun, rifle or shotgun in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania or West Virginia. Residents of those states may also purchase a gun in Ohio.

Conceal Carry Law

Ohio's concealed carry law went into effect in 2004. The law allows permit holders to legally carry a concealed handgun except where posted and in certain prohibited locations, such as government buildings, schools, airports, train stations and places where liquor is served.

How to Apply for a Concealed Carry Permit

Applicants for a concealed carry permit must be at least 21 years old, a resident of Ohio for at least 45 days and a resident of their county for at least 30 days. Requirements include:

  • Completing the application form (available at the local sheriff's office or by downloading it from the Ohio Attorney General's website.)
  • Completing a 12-hour training course and receiving a Certificate of Competency. (Military personnel who have been honorably discharged within six years and retired law enforcement officers can opt out of this requirement.)
  • Having a passport-size picture taken
  • Paying a fee for a background check

You'll also have to show a government-issued photo ID, submit to a background and mental competency check and have your fingerprints taken.

Applications are taken by appointment at your local county sheriff's office. Additional information can be found on the county sheriff's office websites.

Check out Ohios liquor laws too.

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