Effective June 13, Ohio became the 23rd state to allow its citizens to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. This new firearm law, Senate Bill 215, permits all “qualifying adults” to legally carry, possess, or conceal a handgun that is not a restricted firearm without a license, background check, or training. A qualifying adult is a person over 21 years of age, who is not otherwise prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm under federal or state law, and who has satisfied certain criteria under specific sections of Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) 2923.125. A “restricted firearm” means a firearm that is dangerous ordnance (including, but not limited to, automatic and sawed-off firearms, zip-guns, explosive and incendiary devices, high explosives, high explosive compositions, plastic explosives, blasting agents, and military weapons) or otherwise prohibited under Ohio law.
While this new law removes the previous requirement that qualifying adults go through the concealed carry permit process, it still allows private employers to establish and enforce policies prohibiting individuals from carrying firearms in company buildings and company-owned vehicles. The law, however, does not specifically address O.R.C. 2923.1210, which prohibits employers from making rules that prevent individuals with concealed handgun licenses from keeping firearms in their privately owned vehicles on company property, provided the following conditions are met:
- The firearm and ammunition must be locked in the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or container in or on the privately owned motor vehicle when the license holder is not in the vehicle.
- The firearm and ammunition must remain in the privately owned motor vehicle when the license holder is in the vehicle.
- The privately owned motor vehicle is in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be.
Therefore, it remains to be seen whether it will be interpreted that this section of the O.R.C. means that employers cannot prohibit qualifying adults from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in their privately owned motor vehicle in company parking lots, provided the three conditions listed above are met, whether or not those qualifying adults have been issued a concealed handgun license.
Despite the new firearm law, private employers are still immune from civil liability for injury, death, or loss to person or property allegedly caused by or related to the private employer’s decision to permit a licensee to bring, or prohibit a licensee from bringing, a handgun onto the premises or property of the private employer.
Since the new firearm law did not specify that the immunity provision to employers will apply to a qualifying adult, it is recommended that if a company’s handbook addresses concealed carry licensees those policies remain the same. However, with the widespread coverage of the new firearm law there will likely be situations to address when employees argue they are a “qualifying adult.” In those situations, it is recommended you seek the advice of your legal counsel.
Please contact the authors with any questions you may have.