2006 Ohio Revised Code - 2923.16. Improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle.

§ 2923.16. Improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle.
 

(A)  No person shall knowingly discharge a firearm while in or on a motor vehicle. 

(B)  No person shall knowingly transport or have a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle in such a manner that the firearm is accessible to the operator or any passenger without leaving the vehicle. 

(C)  No person shall knowingly transport or have a firearm in a motor vehicle, unless it is unloaded and is carried in one of the following ways: 

(1) In a closed package, box, or case; 

(2) In a compartment that can be reached only by leaving the vehicle; 

(3) In plain sight and secured in a rack or holder made for the purpose; 

(4) In plain sight with the action open or the weapon stripped, or, if the firearm is of a type on which the action will not stay open or which cannot easily be stripped, in plain sight. 

(D)  No person shall knowingly transport or have a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle if, at the time of that transportation or possession, any of the following applies: 

(1) The person is under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them. 

(2) The person's whole blood, blood serum or plasma, breath, or urine contains a concentration of alcohol prohibited for persons operating a vehicle, as specified in division (A) of section 4511.19 of the Revised Code, regardless of whether the person at the time of the transportation or possession as described in this division is the operator of or a passenger in the motor vehicle. 

(E)  No person who has been issued a license or temporary emergency license to carry a concealed handgun under section 2923.125 [2923.12.5] or 2923.1213 [2923.12.13] of the Revised Code shall do any of the following: 

(1) Knowingly transport or have a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle unless the loaded handgun either is in a holster and in plain sight on the person's person or it is securely encased by being stored in a closed, locked glove compartment or in a case that is in plain sight and that is locked; 

(2) If the person is transporting or has a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle in a manner authorized under division (E)(1) of this section, knowingly remove or attempt to remove the loaded handgun from the holster, glove compartment, or case, knowingly grasp or hold the loaded handgun, or knowingly have contact with the loaded handgun by touching it with the person's hands or fingers while the motor vehicle is being operated on a street, highway, or public property unless the person removes, attempts to remove, grasps, holds, or has the contact with the loaded handgun pursuant to and in accordance with directions given by a law enforcement officer; 

(3) If the person is the driver or an occupant of a motor vehicle that is stopped as a result of a traffic stop or a stop for another law enforcement purpose and if the person is transporting or has a loaded handgun in the motor vehicle in any manner, fail to promptly inform any law enforcement officer who approaches the vehicle while stopped that the person has been issued a license or temporary emergency license to carry a concealed handgun and that the person then possesses or has a loaded handgun in the motor vehicle. 

(4) If the person is the driver or an occupant of a motor vehicle that is stopped as a result of a traffic stop or a stop for another law enforcement purpose and if the person is transporting or has a loaded handgun in the motor vehicle in any manner, knowingly disregard or fail to comply with any lawful order of any law enforcement officer given while the motor vehicle is stopped, knowingly fail to remain in the motor vehicle while stopped, or knowingly fail to keep the person's hands in plain sight at any time after any law enforcement officer begins approaching the person while stopped and before the law enforcement officer leaves, unless, regarding a failure to remain in the motor vehicle or to keep the person's hands in plain sight, the failure is pursuant to and in accordance with directions given by a law enforcement officer; 

(5) If the person is the driver or an occupant of a motor vehicle that is stopped as a result of a traffic stop or a stop for another law enforcement purpose, if the person is transporting or has a loaded handgun in the motor vehicle in a manner authorized under division (E)(1) of this section, and if the person is approached by any law enforcement officer while stopped, knowingly remove or attempt to remove the loaded handgun from the holster, glove compartment, or case, knowingly grasp or hold the loaded handgun, or knowingly have contact with the loaded handgun by touching it with the person's hands or fingers in the motor vehicle at any time after the law enforcement officer begins approaching and before the law enforcement officer leaves, unless the person removes, attempts to remove, grasps, holds, or has contact with the loaded handgun pursuant to and in accordance with directions given by the law enforcement officer. 

(F) (1)  This section does not apply to officers, agents, or employees of this or any other state or the United States, or to law enforcement officers, when authorized to carry or have loaded or accessible firearms in motor vehicles and acting within the scope of their duties. 

(2) Division (A) of this section does not apply to a person if all of the following circumstances apply: 

(a) The person discharges a firearm from a motor vehicle at a coyote or groundhog, the discharge is not during the deer gun hunting season as set by the chief of the division of wildlife of the department of natural resources, and the discharge at the coyote or groundhog, but for the operation of this section, is lawful. 

(b) The motor vehicle from which the person discharges the firearm is on real property that is located in an unincorporated area of a township and that either is zoned for agriculture or is used for agriculture. 

(c) The person owns the real property described in division (F)(2)(b) of this section, is the spouse or a child of another person who owns that real property, is a tenant of another person who owns that real property, or is the spouse or a child of a tenant of another person who owns that real property. 

(d) The person does not discharge the firearm in any of the following manners: 

(i) While under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or alcohol and a drug of abuse; 

(ii) In the direction of a street, highway, or other public or private property used by the public for vehicular traffic or parking; 

(iii) At or into an occupied structure that is a permanent or temporary habitation; 

(iv) In the commission of any violation of law, including, but not limited to, a felony that includes, as an essential element, purposely or knowingly causing or attempting to cause the death of or physical harm to another and that was committed by discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle. 

(3) Divisions (B) and (C) of this section do not apply to a person if all of the following circumstances apply: 

(a) At the time of the alleged violation of either of those divisions, the person is the operator of or a passenger in a motor vehicle. 

(b) The motor vehicle is on real property that is located in an unincorporated area of a township and that either is zoned for agriculture or is used for agriculture. 

(c) The person owns the real property described in division (D)(3)(b) of this section, is the spouse or a child of another person who owns that real property, is a tenant of another person who owns that real property, or is the spouse or a child of a tenant of another person who owns that real property. 

(d) The person, prior to arriving at the real property described in division (D)(3)(b) of this section, did not transport or possess a firearm in the motor vehicle in a manner prohibited by division (B) or (C) of this section while the motor vehicle was being operated on a street, highway, or other public or private property used by the public for vehicular traffic or parking. 

(4) Divisions (B) and (C) of this section do not apply to a person who transports or possesses a handgun in a motor vehicle if, at the time of that transportation or possession, all of the following apply: 

(a) The person transporting or possessing the handgun is carrying a valid license or temporary emergency license to carry a concealed handgun issued to the person under section 2923.125 [2923.12.5] or 2923.1213 [2923.12.13] of the Revised Code or a license to carry a concealed handgun that was issued by another state with which the attorney general has entered into a reciprocity agreement under section 109.69 of the Revised Code. 

(b) The person transporting or possessing the handgun is not knowingly in a place described in division (B) of section 2923.126 [2923.12.6] of the Revised Code. 

(c) Either the handgun is in a holster and in plain sight on the person's person or the handgun is securely encased by being stored in a closed, locked glove compartment or in a case that is in plain sight and that is locked. 

(G) (1)  The affirmative defenses authorized in divisions (D)(1) and (2) of section 2923.12 of the Revised Code are affirmative defenses to a charge under division (B) or (C) of this section that involves a firearm other than a handgun. 

(2) It is an affirmative defense to a charge under division (B) or (C) of this section of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle that the actor transported or had the firearm in the motor vehicle for any lawful purpose and while the motor vehicle was on the actor's own property, provided that this affirmative defense is not available unless the person, prior to arriving at the actor's own property, did not transport or possess the firearm in a motor vehicle in a manner prohibited by division (B) or (C) of this section while the motor vehicle was being operated on a street, highway, or other public or private property used by the public for vehicular traffic. 

(H)  No person who is charged with a violation of division (B), (C), or (D) of this section shall be required to obtain a license or temporary emergency license to carry a concealed handgun under section 2923.125 [2923.12.5] or 2923.1213 [2923.12.13] of the Revised Code as a condition for the dismissal of the charge. 

(I)  Whoever violates this section is guilty of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle. Violation of division (A) of this section is a felony of the fourth degree. Violation of division (C) of this section is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. A violation of division (D) of this section is a felony of the fifth degree. A violation of division (E)(3) of this section is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. A violation of division (E)(1), (2), or (5) of this section is a felony of the fifth degree. A violation of division (E)(4) of this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree or, if the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of division (E)(4) of this section, a felony of the fifth degree. A violation of division (B) of this section is whichever of the following is applicable: 

(1) If, at the time of the transportation or possession in violation of division (B) of this section, the offender was carrying a valid license or temporary emergency license to carry a concealed handgun issued to the offender under section 2923.125 [2923.12.5] or 2923.1213 [2923.12.13] of the Revised Code or a license to carry a concealed handgun that was issued by another state with which the attorney general has entered into a reciprocity agreement under section 109.69 of the Revised Code and the offender was not knowingly in a place described in division (B) of section 2923.126 [2923.12.6] of the Revised Code, the violation is a misdemeanor of the first degree or, if the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of division (B) of this section, a felony of the fourth degree. 

(2) If division (I)(1) of this section does not apply, a felony of the fourth degree. 

(J)  If a law enforcement officer stops a motor vehicle for a traffic stop or any other purpose, if any person in the motor vehicle surrenders a firearm to the officer, either voluntarily or pursuant to a request or demand of the officer, and if the officer does not charge the person with a violation of this section or arrest the person for any offense, the person is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm, and the firearm is not contraband, the officer shall return the firearm to the person at the termination of the stop. 

(K)  As used in this section:  

(1) "Motor vehicle," "street," and "highway" have the same meanings as in section 4511.01 of the Revised Code. 

(2)  "Occupied structure" has the same meaning as in section 2909.01 of the Revised Code. 

(3) "Agriculture" has the same meaning as in section 519.01 of the Revised Code. 

(4) "Tenant" has the same meaning as in section 1531.01 of the Revised Code. 

(5) "Unloaded" means, with respect to a firearm employing a percussion cap, flintlock, or other obsolete ignition system, when the weapon is uncapped or when the priming charge is removed from the pan. 
 

HISTORY: 134 v H 511 (Eff 1-1-74); 135 v H 716 (Eff 1-1-74); 147 v H 275. Eff 12-31-97; 150 v H 12, § 1, eff. 4-8-04.
 

See the provisions of §§ 6, 7, 9, and 10 of H.B. 12 (150 v  - ) following RC § 2923.12. 

Not analogous to former RC § 2923.16 (RS § 7031; S&C 448, 449; 29 v 161; GC § 13390; Bureau of Code Revision, 10-1-53), repealed 134 v H 511, § 2, eff 1-1-74.

 

Effect of Amendments

H.B. 12, Acts 2004, effective April 8, 2004, rewrote the section. 

 

19xx Committee Report or Comment.

1974 Committee Comment to H 511

This section retains an existing prohibition against discharging firearms while in or on a motor vehicle, and also enacts new prohibitions against carrying firearms in motor vehicles in an improper manner. 

In essence, the section says that firearms in a motor vehicle must be unloaded, and must be carried in any of the following ways: (1) in a case; (2) in a compartment, such as the trunk, which can be reached only by leaving the vehicle; (3) in plain sight and secured in a rack or holder made for the purpose; or (4) in plain sight with the action open or the weapon stripped or, if the weapon is of a type on which the action will not stay open or which cannot easily be stripped, simply in plain sight. These rules are designed to include the ways in which responsible gun hobbyists and sportsmen agree that firearms should be transported, both from the standpoint of safety and in the interests of protecting valuable weapons from damage. 

If a firearm is transported in a motor vehicle in compliance with this section, then under 2923.12(B)(4) the person transporting it cannot be guilty of carrying concealed weapons, even though the firearm is out of sight and, technically at least, concealed. For example, under former law, a hunter could not place his shotgun in a case inside his car, since it was then a concealed weapon. Under this section, he may put it in a case. 

Also, the section prohibits having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, placed so that it is accessible to the driver or any passenger without leaving the vehicle. The rationale for this is that even if a loaded weapon is lying openly on the seat, it is still concealed from the view of anyone approaching the car, such as a law enforcement officer, and can be used without warning the same as if it were truly hidden. Muzzle-loading weapons are considered "unloaded" for purposes of this section, if the percussion cap is removed, or if there is no priming charges in the pan. This recognizes that removing the ball and main charges from a muzzle-loader without firing it is both difficult and dangerous. 

A person accused of improperly carrying a firearm in a vehicle may defend on the same grounds which are specified in section 2923.12 as excusing the carrying of concealed weapons for defensive purposes. Also, section 2923.16 does not apply to authorized state and federal officers, agents, and employees and law enforcement officers acting in the scope of their duties. 

Discharging firearms from a motor vehicle, or carrying loaded firearms in a motor vehicle, is a misdemeanor of the first degree. Otherwise, improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. 

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Ohio may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.