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April 01, 2022

Ohio’s New Senate Bill 215 – “Constitutional Carry”

by Derek DeBrosse, Esq., Barney DeBrosse, LLC

On March 14, Governor Mike DeWine signed S.B. 215 into law; it takes effect June 13. S.B. 215, otherwise referred to as “Constitutional Carry” or “Permitless Carry”, is exactly that; it allows qualified adults to carry concealed on their person a handgun without a permit.

For months, our office has been getting inquiries as to whether the governor would sign the bill, as it has been on the wish list for gun owners for some time. The new law is saturated with policy discussion and debate; however, I wanted to take a moment and ensure the community understands the main points of S.B. 215. This short article will not cover every change in the law; rather, it will address the main points in broad strokes.

The Concealed Handgun Licensing, or CHL, laws in Ohio are not going away. In fact, they have been incorporated into S.B. 215. The primary result of the passage of S.B. 215 is the new definition of a “Qualifying Adult”, which is defined as someone who is 21 years or older, not prohibited from possessing a firearm and who is otherwise qualified to obtain a CHL under current Ohio law. A Qualifying Adult can carry a concealed handgun (S.B. 215 only allows for handguns) in the same locations as a licensed individual. Moreover, the same legal restrictions and obligations attached to a CHL holder by law also apply to a Qualifying Adult. In the event a Qualifying Adult becomes legally disabled from firearm possession, the Qualifying Adult’s statutory right under S.B. 215 is immediately revoked.

In addition to the creation of the term “Qualifying Adult”, S.B. 215 has also amended the Ohio law regarding notification to law enforcement when armed with a concealed handgun. Presently, when a CHL holder is stopped for a law enforcement purpose, they must promptly notify the officer that they are armed. Under S.B. 215, a Qualifying Adult or CHL holder must not knowingly fail to disclose before or upon being asked by a law enforcement officer that they are carrying a concealed handgun.

It begs the question: why would any Ohio citizen obtain a CHL anymore? There are two main reasons an Ohio citizen may still wish to have an Ohio CHL. First, for reciprocity, so that the CHL holder can legally carry in other states that require a permit. Secondly, all CHL’s issued in Ohio on or after March 23, 2015, enable the holder to bypass a traditional NICS background check, as the license is an adequate substitute per the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This is more a matter of convenience, as the CHL holder does not have to wait for a firearm dealer to run a background check for every purchase (note that the licensed dealer may still require a purchaser to submit to a background check). And lastly, under federal law a person may only carry into a school zone if they have a license to do so issued by the state where the school zone is located. A Qualifying Adult who has not been issued a CHL would not qualify under federal law.

A Qualifying Adult can carry a concealed handgun (S.B. 215 only allows for handguns) in the same locations as a licensed individual. Moreover, the same legal restrictions and obligations attached to a CHL holder by law also apply to a Qualifying Adult.