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Confused about Ohio's new concealed carry law? The Summit County Sheriff is providing some clarity

Community members sit in front of a screen displaying a presentation on SB 215, constitutional carry.
Abigail Bottar
Ideastream Public Medua
Community members learned about concealed carry in Ohio and gun safety at a workshop on Jan. 10, 2023, in Akron.

Workshops on Ohio’s new concealed carry law and gun safety are being offered in Summit County this week. The goal of the three sessions is to educate the public on their rights and to promote safety.

Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Mayer explained Ohio’s concealed carry law at a workshop on Jan. 10 in Akron. The state legislature changed the law surrounding concealed carry last summer. There's been a lot of confusion surrounding the changes, Summit County Sheriff Kandy Fatheree said.

“People were not fully aware of the laws that had changed," Fatheree said. "They did not understand them.”

The workshop also tackles gun safety, which Fatheree hopes will help reduce gun violence.

“I felt that it is our duty and obligation to try to inform the public of the laws and help some of them with gun safety," Fatheree said.

The new law became effective June 13, 2022, and changed the requirements for concealed carry. Previously, gun owners had to get a permit from the sheriff's office to be able to carry a concealed weapon. Now, people must simply be "qualified" adults, or people who are over the age of 21 who meet certain requirements under federal and state law. For example, Ohioans cannot carry a concealed weapon if they have been convicted of a crime with a jail or prison term exceeding one year, are a fugitive, are addicted to a controlled substance, have been adjudicated mentally defective or been committed, are an undocumented immigrant, have been dishonorably discharged from the military, have renounced their citizenship or have been convicted of any misdemeanor domestic violence charges.

Mayer said it's important for people to understand what the requirements are to carry a concealed weapon.

"We heard - when the law passed - we heard like felons who were under the disability under 2923.13, which is called weapons under disability - you have the prior like violent convictions - we heard they thought, like one or two people actually thought, 'Oh, I can carry a gun now!' And no you can't," Mayer said.

A lot of specific applications of the law will need to be decided by the courts, Mayer said.

"Err on the side of caution, because I can't answer your question," Mayer said. "I'm just telling you both sides, and that's why we have juries. And that's why we have judges."

Mayer thinks Ohio's rules around concealed carry will constantly shift and change.

"There may be tweaks that the judicial branch put into play, but other than that, time will tell," Mayer said.

There was a second concealed carry workshop in Northfield Wednesday night. The final one this week is Thursday in North Canton.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.