In Ohio, just because you own a firearm does not mean that you are automatically transporting your firearm legally. Improper handling of a Firearm in Ohio is when you knowingly discharge a firearm in a motor vehicle, or have a loaded firearm accessible in the vehicle without a permit. One minute you believe you are exercising your Constitutional Right, and the next you are in handcuffs in the back of a police car.
While you do have the Constitutional Right to bear arms, in Ohio, but the revised code lays out how one may transport an unloaded firearm safely. O.R.C. Section 2923.16(C) lists the ways that one may do this:
- (1) In a closed package, box, or case;
- (2) In a compartment that can be reached only by leaving the vehicle;
- (3) In plain sight and secured in a rack or holder made for the purpose;
- (4) If the firearm is at least twenty-four inches in overall length as measured from the muzzle to the part of the stock furthest from the muzzle and if the barrel is at least eighteen inches in length, either in plain sight with the action open or the weapon stripped, or, if the firearm is of a type on which the action will not stay open or which cannot easily be stripped, in plain sight.
In Ohio, both the driver or the passenger can be lawfully charged with improper handling of a firearm if either are under the influence at the time of the stop.
While this charge is usually against motorists, there are certain situations where a person can also be charged with Improper Handling of a Firearm under O.R.C. Section 2923.13. The following ways are listed below:
- A convicted felon
- Under indictment for or convicted of any violent felony offense
- Under indictment or has been convicted of illegal possession, use, sale, administration, distribution or trafficking of drugs
- Dependent on drugs, in danger of drug dependence or a chronic alcoholic
- Is mentally incompetent, ill, defective or committed to a mental institution
Depending on which section you are charged under, the charged can range from a minor misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a $150 fine and no jail time to a fourth degree felony, which is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
While everything stated above is true, there are always exceptions to rules that one might need to know, especially if you live in a rural area! O.R.C. Section 2923.16(F)(2) states the permitted circumstances to where discharging a firearm in a motor vehicle is legal in the State of Ohio.
- Discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle at a coyote or groundhog, the discharge is not during deer season and the discharge at the coyote or groundhog is lawful.
- The motor vehicle the firearm was discharged in is on property that is located in an unincorporated area that is zoned for agriculture or used for agriculture.
- The individual who owns the unincorporated property is the spouse or child of a person who owns the property, a tenant, or a spouse or child of the tenant.
- If the person does not discharge the firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, in the direction of property used by the public for vehicular traffic or parking, at or into an occupied structure that is inhabited or has previous firearms conviction.
If you have been charged with Improper Handling of a Firearm in Ohio, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys to review your case!