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Curious Cbus: Answering Your Questions About Guns In Ohio

gun in holster
Eric Gay
Associated Press

Following a series of mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, WOSU asked our audiencefor their questions about guns in Ohio.

Here are the answers to some of the questions we've received so far, as supplied by WOSU's reporters and hosts.

Is Ohio an "open carry" state?

Yes. That meansthat Ohioans who legally possess a firearm can carry openly without any special license. However,there are still limitsto where you can go.

Is Ohio a "constitutional carry" state?

No. "Constitutional carry"means that you don't need a license or training in order to carry an open or concealed weapon. In Ohio, you still need to submit an application, undergo training and be approved for a CCW, or "carrying a concealed weapon," license.

In 2019, lawmakers in the Ohio House introduceda measure that would eliminate those training and permit requirements, as well as cut a requirement that people inform law enforcement when they're carrying a weapon. The bill passedthe Ohio House Federalism Committee in June of 2019 but is still being considered in another committee.

The bill will need to be passed by the House, the Senate, and be signed by the governor before it is law.

Where am I allowed to bring a gun?

You can't take guns into government buildings, police stations, Sheriff's offices, Highway Patrol posts, correctional facilities or beyond the security checkpoint at an airport.

Gun owners also can't take weapons into school safety zones, and colleges and daycares can set their own rules for allowing weapons. The same goes for private businesses, which can choose to ban weapons if they like. You can leave a weapon locked in your car, though.

Read more about where you can take guns in Ohio, from reporter Nick Evans.

(Asked by Debbie Gillum and Debra Gebolys)

Are law enforcement officers raising safety concerns about enforcing red flag laws?

Just over a week ago, a gunman opened fire in a crowded nightlife district in Dayton. Now lawmakers in Ohio are mulling whether state firearm policies need to change and what those changes might look like.

One of those proposed changes came in a press conference last week, when Gov. Mike Dewine backed a version of a "red flag law" that would allow authorities to take guns away if a court deems someone a threat to themselves or others.

Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association executive director Bob Cornwell says that, yes, there are safety concerns any time officers have to seize firearms, but they’ll enforce the law if it’s passed.

“That is our primary responsibility, that is to enforece the laws of the state of Ohio, and if the laws change in this respect, then it is our duty and responsibility to enforce those laws," Cornwell explains.

His association and the Fraternal Order of Police are both likely to weigh in as lawmakers draft procedures for adjudicating red flag cases. Neither group has taken a position yet on legislation.

(Asked by Brennan Winkler)

Why is a gun store allowed to operate down the street from schools?

We've gotten a lot of questions about how and where you can buy guns in Ohio. This one comes down to zoning.

The gun shop Excalibur Outdoorsis located on Indianola Avenue in Clintonville. Last year, Columbus City Council passed a series of ordinances relating to firearms, including one prohibiting commercial sales in residential areas.

Although the east side of Indianola Avenue is zoned residential, the parcel across the street where Excalibur sits is zoned C4 commercial. Under city zoning code, bars and nightclubs zoned C4 have to be at least 500 feet from schools, and auto shops must be at least 100 feet from a number of places including schools, hospitals and churches. There is no provision establishing a set distance for gun stores.

That said, zoning laws differ from town to town, so where gun shops can be located depends completely on local laws.

(Asked by Brittany)

Bouquets of flowers sit on the sign in front of the high school in Chardon, Ohio Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, days after a gunman killed three students at the school.
Credit Mark Duncan / Associated Press
Associated Press
Bouquets of flowers sit on the sign in front of the high school in Chardon, Ohio Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, days after a gunman killed three students at the school.

How do gun deaths compare to traffic fatalities?

Ohio had about 400 more gun deaths than traffic fatalities in 2017. But a bit of context is necessary.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes mortality information state-by-state. Their most recent figures, from 2017, show 1,589 Ohioans died by firearms. Meanwhile, the Ohio State Highway Patrolputs the number of traffic fatalities in the same year at 1,179.

But the leading cause of death when it comes to guns is suicide. According to Ohio Department of Health data, more than 900 of the firearm deaths in 2017 were self-inflicted. A study by the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health shows from 2008-2017, suicide was consistently the leading cause of death by firearm.

For comparison, Ohio lost more than three times as many people to drug overdoses in 2017, and nearly 18 times as many to heart disease, the state’s leading cause of death.

(Asked by Valerie Mattingley)

Now it's your turn: What questions do you have about guns in Ohio?

Ask your question below and we may investigation for a future Curious Cbus story. We'll also update this story with more questions as we answer them.


Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.
Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.