Ohio is a traditional open carry state, which means people who legally own firearms may carry them in public places, unless there is a specific prohibition against them. “Open carry” means the firearm is visible to the naked eye and not concealed. Though open carrying is legal in Ohio, often the sight of a gun in public can cause unnecessary panic and unwanted attention from law enforcement. In fact, The Buckeye Firearms Association warns gun owners about the perils of open carry and doesn’t recommend it.
If you do decide to exercise your right to open carry, keep the following points in mind to protect your rights and avoid criminal charges:
- Open carry rights do not extend to vehicles. You must have a permit to conceal if you have a firearm in your car or truck.
- Know where you cannot bring your gun. The federal government prohibits firearms in schools, courthouses, police stations, post offices and other government property. This applies to both open and concealed carrying.
- Pay attention to posted signs and leave, if asked. Private businesses and property owners can post signs prohibiting firearms. Even if a sign is not posted, a business or property owner can tell you to leave if you have a gun, and you must comply.
- It’s illegal to drink while open carrying. Even if you’re not intoxicated, it is illegal to have a gun while drinking or under the influence.
- Police officers may not be fully aware of your rights. Many police officers are not extremely familiar with open carry rights. If a police officer approaches and questions you, keep both of your hands away from your firearm and in plain view at all times. Move slowly and remain calm.