Ohio General Assembly considering changes to concealed carry on campus
As the current session of Ohio’s 133rd General Assembly draws to a close, Ohio lawmakers are considering a wide array of gun-related measures, including several that are aimed at easing or repealing existing limitations on the concealed carry of firearms.
Under current law, “any premises owned or leased by any public or private college, university, or other institution of higher education” is identified as a prohibited place for purposes of concealed carry unless the concealed license holder has locked the handgun in a motor vehicle or is in the immediate process of doing so, or the concealed license holder is authorized by the institution to carry a concealed handgun on the premises. Ohio R.C. § 2923.126(B)(5). In effect, the current law is a default prohibition on concealed carry on campuses which applies unless the institution’s governing body explicitly overrides that default and adopts a written policy permitting concealed carry.
On December 2, 2020, a substitute version of House Bill 248 was released (see the bill text for December 2, 2020, under Committee Activity), which repeals the default prohibition on concealed carry on college and university property. This repeal means that individual institutions will no longer have the option to choose whether to accept the default prohibition on concealed carry, or permit concealed carry pursuant to a written policy. The bill also prohibits institutions from penalizing students for lawfully carrying a concealed weapon on premises owned or leased by the institution, which may require revisions to current codes of conduct. As of December 8, 2020, the bill has attracted opposition from individual constituents, gun control organizations, the National Congress of Black Women and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, all of whom submitted testimony prior to a House Federalism Committee originally scheduled for December 2, 2020. This hearing was cancelled, but the testimony submitted is available for review on the House Bill 248 Committee Activity page. Proponents of the substitution bill have not yet been identified on the Ohio legislature’s website for purposes of providing testimony in the House Federalism Committee, where the bill is currently assigned for consideration.
In addition to authorizing concealed carry on Ohio college campuses, Substitute House Bill 248 expands the types of weapons covered by concealed carry licenses, lowers the minimum age to acquire a concealed weapons license from 21 to 18, allows specified persons who are permitted to carry a firearm in certain liquor permit premises to do so while consuming alcohol, eliminates the immunity of private employers for injuries allegedly caused by the employer’s decision to prohibit concealed carry on their property, and imposes liability on private landowners who post signs prohibiting concealed carry on their private property if the prohibition allegedly caused injuries to others. For more information about House Bill 248, visit the Ohio Legislature’s website. To contact your representatives with questions or concerns, use the form “Who Represents Me?” to identify your state representative, and then use the House Directory to find their contact information. Please note that information concerning the status of this bill is up-to-date as of December 8, 2020, but things may change quickly during these final weeks of the legislative session.