The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which grants Americans the right to keep and bear arms, has been a constant topic of debate since it’s ratification in 1791.
Originally, construed to allow individuals the right to keep and bear arms connected to necessary militia service, the United States Supreme Court held in 2008 that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms unconnected with service in a militia. Further, the Supreme Court held that an individual may use arms for traditionally, lawful purposes, such as self-defense within a home.
Despite the Supreme Court’s relatively recent clarification of the Second Amendment, there continues to be much debate regarding gun ownership, including whether a person should have an individual right to own a firearm, whether individual firearm ownership contributes to gun violence, and whether additional restrictions should be placed on individuals to prevent mass shootings and other catastrophic events.
Why is there a debate in the first place?
There involves considerable debate regarding the Second Amendment for multiple reasons. First, the Second Amendment was drafted over 225 years ago. The United States was an entirely different place in 1791. The American Revolutionary War, during which the United States ceded from Great Britain, ended only eight years prior. The United States had been involved in a domestic war called the Northwest Indian War against numerous Native American tribes for five years. Also, the United States only consisted of fourteen states.
Regular, non-military Americans, living in this new country with wild and unchartered terrain, were often the only line of defense in their town or village during times of war. This historical context has caused many persons to believe the drafters of the Second Amendment intended for individuals to keep and bear arms connected to a militia only.
Advocates of gun restrictions and limitations often assert contemporary Americans are no longer responsible for the defense of their towns and villages. Americans have law enforcement and military personnel to respond to emergency situations and threats to security.
Pro-gun advocates (persons who support the individual right to bear arms) assert the nature of threats have changed since 1791. While an individual is not responsible for the protection of an entire village or town, he or she is responsible for self-defense and the defense of their home.
Gun Rights in Ohio
The state of Ohio would be considered a “Pro-Gun” state. There are few restrictions and prohibitions regarding gun ownership in the state of Ohio. The Ohio State Constitution provides:
The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.
An individual age 21 or older may purchase handgun without a permit in the state of Ohio. Without a license the individual may only carry the weapon at his or her home. To carry or possess the weapon outside of the home, the individual must obtain a permit. Ohio is considered a “traditional open carry state”, which means with valid permit a gun owner may openly carry a firearm in public or engage in concealed carry, where the firearm is not visible to the casual observer.
To qualify for a permit, an individual must satisfy the following requirements:
- Must be at least 21 years of age
- Must be an Ohio resident for 45 days
- Must be a resident in home county for 30 days
- Must complete required education course and obtain a certificate
- Pass a criminal background check
- Pass a mental competency check
Common Firearm Related Charges
Despite the pro-gun laws in Ohio, there are several criminal charges that may result from unlawful possession of a firearm, including:
- Improper Discharge of a Firearm: While Ohio does have relatively relaxed gun laws, there are several places an individual may not fire or discharge a firearm, including the occupied habitation of another, a school zone, within 1,000 feet of a school building (with intent to cause physical harm, panic, or fear), over a cemetery, and a public road or highway.
- Using Firearms While Intoxicated: An individual may not possess or use a firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is not required that the individual be intoxicated or have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08.
- Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon: Generally, an individual convicted of violent felony or any drug-related offense or under the indictment of a violent felony or any drug related offense may not possess a firearm
Other Persons Not Permitted to Possess a Firearm
There are also specific classes of persons who may not possess a firearm. Should the following classes of persons be found in possession of a firearm, he or she will be subject to criminal charges:
- Drug dependent person
- Chronic Alcoholic
- Person who has been adjudicated mentally incompetent
- Any person who has been committed to a mental institution
- A fugitive from justice
The debate regarding gun rights and the limitations with undoubtedly continue. To avoid criminal charges, it is important to be knowledge about the constant legislative changes.
Brian Joslyn of Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm is an experience criminal defense attorney and member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). He proudly represents clients facing all types of firearm offenses, including carry a concealed weapon, improper discharge of a weapon, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Brian Joslyn and the attorneys of the Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm represent individuals facing firearms charges throughout Ohio, including Franklin County, Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County.