As part of WOSU's Curious Cbus project, we asked our audience to submit their questions about guns in Ohio. Pretty quickly a theme emerged: Many listeners wanted to know where you can—and can’t—legally carry a firearm.
I met up with Dean Rieck of the Buckeye Firearms Association in Uptown Westerville. He took me to a courtyard on South State Street.
“Right behind us is City Hall, and there’s a court in the building, so you’re not allowed to carry there,” Rieck explains.
He pointed to the police station across the way: You can’t carry there either.
As a general rule, government buildings are no-carry zones. In addition to police stations, Sheriffs’ offices, Highway Patrol posts and correctional facilities are off-limits. The area beyond security at an airport is also a no-go.
Ohio is an open carry state. Rieck notes the primary difference has to do with licensing.
“The places which are restricted for carry would be restricted for open carry as well,” Rieck says. “So if I wanted to carry a firearm in a holster on my hip I could do so, as long as it’s visible. If I want to put my shirt over it and conceal it, I would need a license.”
Gun owners are also forbidden from carrying in school safety zones. That includes the building, campus, school buses and at school activities, but keeping a gun locked in your car is legal.
Colleges can set their own rules for carrying on campus, but again, students and visitors are allowed to keep weapons locked in their car. Day care centers are also now allowed to decide whether they'll allow guns, thanks to the same measure removing blanket firearm prohibitions at colleges.
“If you go across the street," Rieck says, "there’s a coffee shop, a flower shop, there are a variety antique stores and restaurants, all of those places are perfectly legal to carry a firearm. You just have to know what the law is, what buildings are restricted, and watch for small signs on the front of the building.”
Those, which Rieck refers to as "Ghostbuster" signs, depict a firearm with a red circle and cross—similar to a "no smoking" sign. Although it’s not illegal to carry a weapon on private property, it is up to the owner to decide if they’ll allow it.
Alcohol adds another level of complexity. So long as a business owner allows it, it’s legal to carry a weapon in a restaurant or bar. The person carrying just can’t drink.
If a person has been drinking, they aren’t allowed to carry, whether they have a license to do so or not.
What do you want to know about guns in Ohio? Submit your questions below.