Before transporting firearms in Ohio, make sure you understand Ohio handgun laws. If you want to carry a handgun in public in a concealed manner, either on your person or in close proximity, you must have a valid concealed carry license.
Ohio Gun Laws
Ohio gun laws were amended in March 2017, making changes to various aspects of gun ownership and transportation. When it comes to laws for transporting a handgun in a car or other vehicle, the relevant law is the Ohio Revised Code Section 2923.16.
In Ohio, you have to meet certain requirements to get a concealed carry license. You must be at least 21 years of age legally living in the United States, and be a resident of Ohio or employed in Ohio. You must not be an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance, be a fugitive from justice, or prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm. Additionally, you must be able to pass the "NICS" criminal background check.
Transporting a Handgun
Ohio is an open-carry state, which means anyone who legally possesses a firearm can openly carry it in the state, either with or without a concealed handgun license.
However, there are rules in Ohio about transporting firearms if you don’t have a concealed handgun license. An unloaded handgun may be transported in a car only if it is in a closed box, package, bag or case, in a compartment that is only accessible by leaving the car, or in plain sight and secured in a suitably designed rack or holder.
You are prohibited from knowingly transporting or having a loaded handgun in a vehicle in Ohio if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of these, or if your whole blood, blood serum or plasma, breath or urine contains a concentration of alcohol, a listed, controlled substance or a listed metabolite of a controlled substance prohibited for persons operating a vehicle. The latter applies to either the driver or passenger in the car.
Handguns at School or College
Ohio law permits you to carry a concealed handgun in a school safety zone, provided you have a valid concealed handgun license or are an active member of the military and do not enter a school building or school premises. You must leave the handgun inside your car at all times, and if you get out of the car, you must lock it. Schools, school buildings, school premises, school buses and locations of school activities are all classed as school safety zones.
If a college, university or other place of higher education has a written policy permitting people to carry concealed handguns on their premises, it is allowed. However, you must have a valid concealed handgun license.
Ohio Gun Penalties
Different punishments apply to violations of Ohio laws concerning transportation of a handgun in a car. If you knowingly discharge a firearm while in or on a motor vehicle, this is a felony of the fourth degree. This is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
If you don't have a a valid concealed handgun license and knowingly transport or have a firearm in a motor vehicle that is not in a closed box, case or package, in a compartment that can be reached only by leaving the vehicle, or in plain sight and secured in a rack or holder, it's a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, punishable by 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250.
Knowingly transporting or having a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a felony of the fifth degree, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If the loaded handgun is concealed on your person, it is a felony of the fourth degree.