Effective June 13, 2022, Ohio Senate Bill 215, permits “qualifying adults” to legally carry, possess, and conceal a handgun without a license, background check, or training requirements. According to the new statute, codified at Ohio Revised Code § 2923.125A:
Regardless of whether the person has been issued a concealed handgun license, … a person who is a qualifying adult may carry a concealed handgun that is not a restricted firearm anywhere in this state in which a person who has been issued a concealed handgun license may carry a concealed handgun.
A “qualifying adult” must, among other criteria, be at least twenty-one years old and not be legally prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm under other federal law or state law. For employers, the new law means that more Ohio employees are likely to carry firearms in their private lives.
Senate Bill 215 makes clear that employers may still establish, maintain, and enforce policies prohibiting employees from carrying handguns or firearms in company buildings or within company vehicles:
Nothing in this section shall negate or restrict a rule, policy, or practice of a private employer … concerning or prohibiting the presence of firearms on the private employer’s premises or property, including motor vehicles owned by the private employer.
Moreover, existing Ohio law still permits employers and other property owners to set limits on anyone bringing handguns onto their premises. According to Ohio Revised Code § 2923.126(C)(3)(a), employers who own, lease, or otherwise control private property “may post a sign in a conspicuous location … prohibiting persons from carrying firearms or concealed firearms on or onto that land or those premises.” Violating an employer’s signage subjects individuals, including employees, to penalties for criminal trespass. Senate Bill 215 does nothing to roll back these employer rights.
The one likely change for employers under the new law involves the storage of employees’ guns in cars parked on company property. Specifically, Ohio Revised Code § 2923.1210, passed back in in 2017, already allows employees with a valid concealed carry licenses to bring firearms and ammunition in their privately owned motor vehicles onto their employer’s parking lots, as long as the following conditions are met:
- when the license holder is absent from the privately owned motor vehicle, the firearm and ammunition must be locked in the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment of the vehicle;
- when the license holder is present in the privately owned motor vehicle, the firearm and ammunition must remain in the vehicle; and
- the license holder’s privately owned motor vehicle must be parked in a permitted location.
Now, according to Senate Bill 215, all qualifying adults now have the same rights previously enjoyed only by individuals with concealed handgun licenses, so employers should not expect to enforce rules prohibiting any eligible employees from transporting or storing firearms or ammunition in their parking lots under the conditions described above. Employers should consider revising their employment policies to capture this change in the law.
Lastly, Senate Bill 215 provides certain immunity from prosecution for private employers related to handgun use by employees:
[Private employers] shall be immune from liability in a civil action for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that allegedly was caused by or related to a [person] bringing a handgun onto the premises or property of the private employer, including motor vehicles owned by the private employer, unless the private employer acted with malicious purpose.
The Labor and Employment lawyers at Coolidge Wall can provide guidance on complying with and maximizing employers’ rights under the new statute. Should you have specific questions, please contact us.