Ohio’s Constitutional Carry Bills: Should We Support Them?

Recently the Ohio legislature has produced two bills for what is being called “Constitutional Carry.” The Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 227 and the Ohio Senate passed SB 215, each of which have been passed to the other legislative body for review and passage. It is useful to know the contents of these bills, what they might do for liberty in Ohio, and what actions we should take. In this article we review the questions asked at a recent Libertarian Party of Warren County meeting, review the bills’ provisions, and summarize with the answers to the questions, including whether either of these bills should gain our support as libertarians.

DISCLAIMER: This is the result of a non-lawyer review of these bills. The contents of any bill that passes will likely change as it goes through the process. DO NOT see this blog post as legal advice if either of these bills become law!

Libertarian Questions

Here are the questions asked in the Libertarian Party of Warren County’s December 2021 meeting:

  • Ohio marijuana card holders are not allowed to carry concealed firearms – will this change that?
  • What provisions does the bill actually contain?
  • Do the bills move the needle in the direction of liberty, as advertised?
  • Should the LPWC and LPO be supporting this legislation?

Summarizing the Two Bills

We reviewed the text of HB 227 and SB 215. The house bill is a monstrous 90+ pages, while the senate bill is shorter but still over 60 pages. These bills are lengthy because they spell out exactly how the existing Ohio code of law would be changed. The very fact that it takes so many pages to cover the existing code of law should be a clue by itself: It was not written by libertarians, but by individuals with no concept of firearm ownership as a basic human right. The approach taken toward firearms in the Ohio code of laws is to outlaw everything, adding exceptions as the politicians see fit. The approach taken by these bills is to make modifications to the code, not to throw it out and start from a fresh sheet of paper.

Both bills would accomplish the following

  • They would allow adults 21 and older to carry firearms concealed without a permit. There are some large exceptions based on other state and federal prohibitions, which we cover below.
  • When stopped by law enforcement in a vehicle or otherwise, a person carrying a concealed firearm would not have to volunteer that they are carrying. However, if they are asked, they must reveal that they are carrying concealed.

One provision found only in the Senate bill

  • Law enforcement cannot use lawful concealed carry of a handgun as grounds for search, seizure, or detention of any sort.

What the Bills Do Not Do

There are several things in Ohio law that are not changed by this legislation. Some are just matter-of-fact, but several are actually quite disturbing:

  • These bills do not eliminate the use of Ohio concealed handgun licenses (CHLs). When Ohio residents travel to other states and wish to carry concealed, many states will require a permit or license. So, CHLs will continue to be sought and issued in Ohio.
  • In 2923.125(D)(1) several CHL conditions are spelled out that are disturbing. Disqualifications include historic drug offenses and other charges where sentences have been completed (once somebody has served their sentence they should get their rights back), mental illness (do we really want the State involved in this topic?), use of controlled substances (such as marijuana card holders), and dishonorable discharges from the military (noting that a lot of dishonorable discharges are now being served for refusing injections).
  • Section 2923.126(B) has an unnecessarily restrictive list of places where handguns cannot be carried. Much more restrictive than in other states. The list includes churches (without explicit permission), government buildings, and schools.
  • Section 2923.16(D)(1) has language that could cause a lot of trouble for those who are unaware. If you are carrying concealed and you give a ride to a friend who is drunk or under the influence of a controlled substance, you are now in violation of having loaded firearms in the same car that they are in.
  • 21 remains the age for concealed carry in Ohio? 18 years is the standard for adulthood in most of the country and this should be more consistent. Adulthood should be adulthood. Rights should not be metered out some time after adulthood is reached.
  • Ohio law would still only allow handguns to be carried concealed. Other types of weapons shouldn’t be prohibited from the same.

Summary: Answering the Questions

Finally, we present the questions that were asked and the answers to those questions.

Would marijuana card holders be allowed to carry concealed?

Both bills contain language that would prevent this. The house bill states that for an adult over 21 to carry concealed, they must not be “prohibited under the law of this state or the United States from possessing a firearm.” 18 USC 922(g)(1-9) is called out specifically in the senate bill. So neither of these bills would change the status quo where marijuana card holders are prevented from carrying concealed firearms.

What provisions do the bills actually contain?

This has been summarized above.

Do the bills move the needle in the direction of liberty, as advertised?

Referring to these permit-less carry bills as “Constitutional Carry” bills presents two issues:

  • It implies that firearm rights are granted by the US Constitution, rather than being preexisting human rights recognized by the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The state of Ohio should also be recognizing these as preexisting human rights.
  • It overstates what these bills would accomplish. They don’t actually remove all restrictions (infringements) on firearm rights the way that applying the US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment at the state level would.

That said, these bills would lift some onerous restrictions on who can carry concealed weapons and remove the duty to inform law enforcement when one is carrying concealed. The senate bill adds a significant provision that prevents search, seizure, or detention using legal concealed carry as grounds to do so.

So, while the term “Constitutional Carry” isn’t correct, it is true that both of these bills would move the needle in the direction of liberty.

Should the LPWC and LPO be supporting this legislation?

Because liberty is at the heart of what we want as libertarians, we should certainly support these bills. We should do so with preference to the Senate bill, providing additional protections to those who are carrying concealed.

Action: What We Should Do

  • Reach out to your current state representatives and senators, asking them to support these bills. Be sure to include why the senate bill is better, so that they either give preference to that bill or modify the house bill to include such language.
  • Continue to demand further reform of the Ohio code of laws to shift gun ownership and concealed carry from the status of privilege to the full recognition of a human right, with restrictions removed.
  • Push for nullification of federal gun controls at the state level, as covered by the Tenth Amendment Center in the video below and many of their other videos, podcasts, and articles.
  • Join the Libertarian Party of Ohio and the Libertarian Party of Warren County (or whatever county you live in) to join forces and work for liberty in our lifetimes!