Starting March 1, 2017, Ohio employers and business owners can no longer prevent holders of valid concealed carry licenses from storing firearms and ammunition at their place of business, so long as they remain within the licensee’s own vehicle.
Senate Bill 199, approved by the Ohio Legislature during their 2016 session and signed into law by Governor Kasich in December of last year, prohibits a “business entity, property owner, or public or private employer” from establishing, maintaining, or enforcing any policy that “has the effect of prohibiting a person who has been issued a valid concealed handgun license from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition” within certain conditions.
First, if the business entity or employer otherwise prohibits concealed carry on the premises, licensees may only store or transport firearms within their own privately owned vehicle. Second, storing firearms and ammunition is permissible only if the licensee’s vehicle “is in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be,” meaning that regardless of the presence of the firearm, the vehicle is otherwise be allowed to park on or pass through the property. Third, the firearm and all ammunition is required to remain in the vehicle at all times, and must be locked in an enclosed compartment such as a glove box or trunk when the owner is not in the vehicle.
SB 199 specifies that business entities, property owners, and employers will not be held liable for damages resulting from a person’s transport or storage of firearms, including the theft of a firearm from an employee’s or except in cases where the employer or property owner solicited the injurious actions. In the text of the bill, “damages” explicitly includes the theft of an employee’s or invitee’s firearm from their automobile.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office reports that in the first three quarters of 2016, sheriffs issued 93,851 concealed carry licenses, up almost 83 percent from 2015. With concealed carry on the rise, business owners and employers should already have a clear and coherent policy on whether firearms are allowed or prohibited on their premises. Be sure to examine your policies before March 1 to ensure compliance with this new law.
Property owners and persons in control of private premises, including employers, can still post a sign in a conspicuous location prohibiting persons from carrying firearms onto the property or premises, so long as it is understood that an employee or customer’s privately owned vehicle is exempt from this prohibition even while parked in an employer’s or business owner’s parking lot. CPC’s Ohio Concealed Carry Sign remains in compliance with the Ohio Revised Code, specifying that possession or conveyance of deadly weapons and dangerous ordnance is prohibited on the premises “unless otherwise authorized by law.”