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Know the Laws: Ohio

UPDATED April 28, 2017

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WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. Go to the OH Where to Find Help page for legal assistance or a domestic violence organization in your area.

Basic Info and Definitions

back to topWhat is the difference between federal and state gun laws?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both "federal gun laws" and "state gun laws."  The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself.  Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws.  Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well.  You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws.  Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws.  If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor.  If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor).  For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?  If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

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back to topI am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

It depends.  Under federal law, which is enforceable in every state, someone who has a protection order against him/her or who has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor cannot buy, own or have a gun in his/her possession.*  There are certain requirements that your protection order must meet for it to qualify under federal law.  See I have a protection order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun? to read more about what those requirements are. Also, federal law says a person who was convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor cannot have a firearm.**  If you are not sure if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?  To read the definition of a felony, see What is the definition of a felony?

In addition, there are certain Ohio state law restrictions about who can get a concealed handgun license in Ohio.  In order to qualify for a concealed handgun, all of the following must apply: 

  1. s/he is legally living in the United States (and has not renounced his/her US citizenship);
  2. s/he either lives in Ohio or is employed in Ohio;
  3. s/he is at least twenty-one years old;
  4. s/he is not a fugitive from justice;
  5. s/he is not currently under indictment for, or otherwise currently charged with, a felony, a misdemeanor offense of violence, negligent assault, falsifying a handgun license, or certain drug-related offenses (you can see which drug offenses in the statute, section (D)(1)(d));
  6. s/he was not convicted of or didn't plead guilty to certain drug-related offenses and was not adjudicated a delinquent child for committing an acts that would be considered these drug-related offenses if committed by an adult (you can see which drug offenses in the statute, section (D)(1)(e));
  7. s/he was not convicted of, didn't plead guilty to, or was not adjudicated a delinquent child for committing assault when the victim is a peace officer or for committing any other offense (that is not previously mentioned) that is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
  8. within the past three years, s/he was not convicted of, didn't plead guilty to, and was not adjudicated a delinquent child for committing a misdemeanor offense of violence (other than a few specific crimes, which you can read about in the statute, section (D)(1)(f));
  9. within the past five years, s/he has not been convicted of, pleaded guilty to, or adjudicated a delinquent child for committing two or more violations of the crimes of assault or negligent assault;
  10. within the past ten years, s/he has not been convicted of, pleaded guilty to, or adjudicated a delinquent child for committing a violation of the crime of resisting arrest;
  11. can certify that s/he is not an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any drug;
  12. s/he has not been discharged from the armed forces of the United States under dishonorable conditions;
  13. s/he was not adjudicated (declared by a court) mentally incompetent, mentally ill, committed to a mental institution, or is currently an involuntary patient for any reason other than just for purposes of observation; and
  14. s/he is not currently subject to a civil protection order, a temporary protection order, or a protection order issued by a court of another state.***
* 18 USC § 922(g)(8)
** 18 USC § 922(g)(9)
*** Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.125(D)(1)

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back to topWhat crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?

A crime is considered a domestic violence misdemeanor under federal law if it:

  • Can be defined as a misdemeanor under federal or state law; and
  • Involves physical violence or force, or includes threats made with a deadly weapon; and
  • Was committed by:
    • a current or former spouse;
    • a parent or guardian of the victim;
    • a person with whom the victim shares a child;
    • a person living with the victim as a spouse, parent or guardian; OR
    • a person who has a similar relationship (listed above) with a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim.*
Note: The crime does not have to specifically mention "domestic violence" in order for it to be considered a domestic violence misdemeanor, and for the federal firearm law to apply.**  The relationship that the victim has with the offender is what determines whether or not the misdemeanor is a "domestic violence" misdemeanor.***

For example: If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his wife, he may no longer have or buy a gun. If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his neighbor, he may still be able to have or buy a gun.

If you're not sure if a certain crime counts as a domestic violence misdemeanor, you can contact the National Center on Full Faith and Credit at 1-800-903-0111.

* 18 USC 921 (a)(33)(A)
** United States v. Kavoukian, 315 F. 3d 139 (2d. Cir. 2002); United States v. Meade, 175 F.3d 215 (1st Cir. 1999)
*** United States v. Denis, 297 F.3d.25 (1st Cir. 2002.); United States v. Costigan, No. 009-B0H, 2000 U.S. Dist. (D. Me. June 16, 2000)

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back to topWhat is the definition of a felony?

A felony under both state and federal law is a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year.*

* 18 USC 3559; O.R.C.A. Sec. 2901.02(E)

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