Covid lockdowns, rioting in the streets and the absence of police protection have more Ohioans purchasing firearms than ever before.
But when can you legally use a firearm in Ohio? Can you use a gun to protect your home, your business or your personal property?
We asked Deputy Tom Taylor of Ohio Valley Tactical and State Representative Nino Vitale for answers.
Taylor is a Certified Law Enforcement Instructor. He has over 28 years working and training in firearms for Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement, as well as foreign Military. Taylor’s duties as a law enforcement team member include sniper, advanced firearms instructor, and entry team member.
Taylor owns Ohio Valley Tactical in Clarington, Ohio, where he trains military personnel, law enforcement and civilians. Ohio Valley tactical has a shooting range, live fire shoot house, zip lines, rappelling and more.
“Ohio adheres to the Castle Doctrine, which means that you do not have a duty to retreat before using deadly force in your home or vehicle,” explained Taylor. “If a threat occurs in one of these two places, you can legally use deadly force.”
Ohio’s Castle Law, House Bill 228, went into effect on March 28, 2019.
These are the only two places you do not have the duty to retreat, according to Ohio law.
Regarding the run on gun stores in Ohio, Taylor has word of caution for first-time gun buyers: “Learn how to use your weapon or you could be the one that ends up dead.”
“When someone goes out and buys a gun for the first time, it gives them a false sense of security,” said Taylor. “They feel like they have protection, but they have no idea how to use it.”
Taylor said that using a gun effectively “under stress” in a life-threatening situation requires training.
“My question is, what are you prepared to do? If you are not prepared to kill somebody, you are probably going to get killed,” explained Taylor.
“There’s not a law enforcement agency in this country that teaches you to wound people. When I do a class, I tell them that your intent is to kill. I teach them that you fire a minimum of three rounds right off the bat.”
What are your rights as a business owner? Can you legally protect your investment and your livelihood from vandalism and looting with a firearm?
State Representative Nino Vitale says no.
“Only if your life or the life of another is in danger,” said Vitale, who is an NRA Concealed Carry Weapon instructor. “Property cannot be protected with a firearm.”
Vitale represents Champaign, and Logan and Shelby Counties in the Ohio House of Representatives.
To explain the difference between protecting your property from damage and protecting yourself from serious bodily harm, Taylor used an example. “Someone is in your driveway hitting your car with a baseball bat. Your property is being damaged, but you cannot legally shoot. Now if that person comes at you with the baseball bat, that is the threat of serious bodily harm or death and you can legally protect yourself.”
Taylor said that paying attention to your surroundings and being observant plays an important role in protecting yourself from violence. Taylor said that you should always carry at least one spare magazine.
To legally carry a concealed handgun in Ohio, either on your person or in your vehicle, you must have a concealed carry permit. Classing and instruction are available for this. You can carry more than one handgun, in fact. There is no written law on how many handguns a person can carry, said Taylor. The age requirement is 21 in Ohio.
Open carry is the ability to carry a gun in plain view. Ohio does not require a permit to open carry but with that come some restrictions. You cannot get in a vehicle with an open carry gun without a Concealed Carry license, said Taylor. The gun must first be unloaded.
You should always know your rights based on your location and be aware of updated legislation. This includes temporary bans and restrictions due to current events like civil unrest.
States of Emergency can be declared by the President, Governors, Mayors, and Sheriff’s departments, allowing for wildly varied laws within a small geographical area and could impact your right to purchase or use firearms.
While some states have embraced the arming of citizens to support overwhelmed police forces, others will be quick to remove your right to protect yourself.
The city of St. Louis is reportedly investigating the couple that stood up to protesters on their front lawn. However, Missouri’s Castle Doctrine allows the use of deadly force on one’s property.