A Loaded Gun: Ohio Lawmakers Contemplate New Gun Laws

Akron police officers at the University of Akron’s gun range for low-light qualifications Tuesday, January 21, 2019.

The Cleveland Scene reported last August that Ohio lawmakers were considering allowing people 21 and older to concealed carry without a permit, otherwise known as House Bill 178. 

Ohio House Bill 178 has been re-referred twice, so the requirements for concealed carry remain the same today. 

The basic requirements include: applicant must be 21 years of age, be an Ohio resident for 45 days and complete an approved firearms training class. 

This bill would eliminate the need for proper training and would allow anyone without a criminal background to open or concealed carry in the state of Ohio.

The University of Akron’s gun range targets before qualifications began.

Joseph Bomba, an NRA certified instructor for pistols and chief range safety officer, thinks removing the training requirement for people who want to purchase guns is scary. 

“There are some items in the legislature right now that would automatically grant people the right to carry a concealed firearm…and that’s a big change,” Bomba said.

According to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, Ohio is a “shall-issue” state, which means if an applicant meets the basic requirements set out by state law, the issuing authority must issue a permit. 

Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy certified training officer and Akron police officer Don Sampsel is not against the bill, but is concerned that the wrong people will take advantage of it. 

“Eighty to ninety percent of people would probably go through the proper training, but it’s the people on the fringes, that other percent, that would take advantage of it,” Sampsel said. 

The University of Akron’s gun range before the officers arrived.

Concealed carry should not be confused with “open carry” or “constitutional carry.” Open carry is the act of “carrying openly visible firearms in public,” according to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Constitutional carry allows a person to concealed or open carry without a permit. Ohio allows open carry and concealed carry permits only.

Bomba and Sampsel both believe open carrying causes panic and loses the element of surprise if a situation were to arise 

“I like to see armed people,” Sampsel said, “but I don’t want to know it’s there.”

In March 2019, Ohio House Bill 228 went into effect in Ohio that states it is now the burden of the prosecutor to prove the defendant did not act in self-defense.

“The shift to the burden of proof in Ohio is probably the most recent change,” Bomba said. “Prior to that, the defendant had to prove they were not the one who caused the problem.” 

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s website “if law enforcement and prosecutors determine that a person’s use of deadly force is not justified, criminal actions may be pursued.” 

The state of Ohio adheres to the Castle Doctrine, which states “individuals have the right to use reasonable force, including deadly force, to protect themselves or others against an intruder in their home or vehicle.” 

Lawmakers proposed House Bill 381 in November 2019, the bill posits a “stand your ground” provision. The provision expands the locations of which a person has a duty to retreat before using deadly force to public areas, not just their vehicle or their home. The bill was introduced once in House Bill 228, rejected as a provision, and then re-introduced as House Bill 381.

Patrolman Sampsel said he expects everyone to be armed, with or without a permit, however, he’s worried about other civilians’ safety.

“I am okay with the bill,” Sampsel said. “I expect everyone to have a gun so that I’m not surprised, but I am most concerned with the safety of it.”

To contact any Ohio state representative or senator to voice any concerns or opinions on House Bills 381 or 178, call the Ohio Legislative Information Hotline at 1-800-282-0253.




Don Sampsel, OPOTA certified training officer and Akron Police Officer

Joseph Bomba, NRA certified pistols instructor and Chief Range Safety Officer