December 31

Can I Carry A Gun In My Car In Ohio?

If you own a gun in Ohio, or if you’re an Ohio resident who’s thinking of purchasing one it’s important that you know exactly what the law is regarding carrying guns in the state.  We’ll tell you everything you need to know here so that you won’t get caught on the wrong side of the law with your firearm. 

There are actually quite a large number of laws regulating the transportation and carrying of guns in Ohio, and it can be a lot to get your head around.  Nevertheless, it’s important that you do so as a gun owner to make sure you stay out of legal trouble.

Is Ohio An Open Carry State?

The short answer is that yes, Ohio is an open-carry state.  This means that it is legal for a gun owner to openly carry their weapon in Ohio, whether or not they have a concealed handgun license.  However, it’s extremely important to understand that there are still several restrictions on transporting guns without a concealed handgun license. 

What Restrictions Are There On Transporting Guns In Ohio?

You can carry guns in your car in Ohio with certain limitations.  First of all, the gun must not be loaded.  An unloaded gun may be carried in your car, as long as one of the following is true:

  1. It is in a closed box, package, or case
  2. It is in a compartment that can only be accessed by leaving the vehicle (for, for example, you could keep it in the car’s trunk, but not the glove compartment)
  3. It is in plain sight and secured in a gun rack or gun holder built for that purpose (no using your drink holder as a gun holder)

Note that the above does not apply to long guns, which have different rules.  In law, long guns are guns with a barrel length of at least 18 inches and an overall length of at least 24 inches which, in practice, usually means shotguns and rifles.  

Long Guns Can Only Be Carried In Cars If They Are:

  1. In plain sight with the action open or the weapon stripped
  2. For weapons where opening the action or stripping the weapon are impossible or impractical, the weapon must simply be in plain sight 

Loaded guns may not be carried in cars in Ohio, regardless of type unless you have a concealed carry permit.  If you do have a concealed carry permit, then transporting loaded firearms is legal.  However, doing so while under the effects of alcohol or drugs is always illegal regardless of whether you have a concealed carry permit or not. 

If you do not have a permit, it is also illegal to carry a weapon that is unloaded if you are also carrying ammunition or magazines in close proximity.  Ammunition or magazines have to be kept in a separate compartment or container.

Other Restrictions Involving Cars And Guns In Ohio

There are also some other restrictions in Ohio regarding cars and guns.  For instance, it is illegal to discharge a weapon from a vehicle in Ohio, except in some specific situations that usually pertain to farming and hunting.  For example, it becomes legal if the gun is discharged for the purpose of shooting a coyote or a groundhog.

It is also illegal to discharge a gun either on or above a public road, so the police won’t accept your explanation that you’re hunting on the public highways.

What Should I Do If I Get Pulled Over While I Have A Gun In My Car In Ohio?

If you have a concealed carry license, you must tell the officer who pulls you over both that you have a gun in the car and that you have legal permission to carry it.  Saying that you forgot to do this will not be a valid defense if you land in legal trouble later for not doing so. 

The law also says that you must keep your hands in plain view of the officer and not try to either reach for the weapon or get out of your car without explicit permission to do so from the officer.

Can My Employer Stop Me From Keeping A Gun In My Car In Ohio?

In short, no.  State law does not allow an employer to prevent an employee from keeping a gun in their car, even if that car is parked in the employer’s parking lot, as long as the car remains locked.  However, your employer may still deny you permission to bring a gun into the workplace.

Concealed Carry In Ohio

You will need a license to concealed carry in Ohio.  Concealed carry licenses are available to those aged 21 or over who have completed the necessary training with a qualified instructor and who pass certain competency tests and background checks. 

Things that will bar you from getting the license include any drug convictions, any felony convictions, and also certain misdemeanor convictions within the last three years.  Residence in Ohio was also formerly a requirement but as of March 2015, non-residents who work in the state can also be issued the licenses. 

The license does not grant complete freedom to concealed carry at any place or time, but it does allow a much wider range of freedoms and permissions than are available without one.  If you have or are looking to get a license, make sure you’re clear on what restrictions will still apply to you. 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve read this article then you should be fully clued up on the law in Ohio as it applies to carrying guns in cars.  There are a lot of details to remember and nobody wants to end up on the wrong side of a law they either hadn’t heard of or didn’t properly understand. 

At worst, the consequences could be tragic.  It’s much better to get your facts straight from the beginning and now that you have, you should have no trouble.



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