Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.
Under state law, Ohio generally prohibits the following people from purchasing or possessing firearms, unless they have obtained a “relief from disability”:1
- Fugitives from justice;
- Persons under indictment for or convicted of any violent felony offense, or who have been adjudicated a delinquent child for the commission of an offense that, if committed by an adult, would have been a violent felony offense;
- Persons under indictment for, or convicted of, a felony drug offense (or adjudicated a delinquent child for the commission of an offense that, if committed by an adult, would have been a felony drug offense);
- Persons who are “drug dependent, in danger of drug dependence” or “chronic alcoholics;” or
- Persons who are subject to certain mental health related court orders or findings.2
Ohio also prohibits the “use” of a firearm by a career criminal.3
Ohio law also restricts the sale of firearms to young people.
Ohio has no law preventing firearm purchase or possession by people who have been convicted of violent misdemeanors or persons subject to domestic violence restraining orders. For more information, see the Domestic Violence and Firearms in Ohio section.
For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see Background Check Procedures in Ohio.
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- See Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.14 regarding the procedure for obtaining relief from the prohibition against firearm possession. This provision was amended in 2011 by Ohio H.B. 54.
- Ohio law still uses archaic and offensive terminology to prohibit firearm access by individuals who have been “adjudicated as a mental defective.” Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.13(A).
- Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.132(B). Career criminal is defined as a person who, within the preceding eight years, has been convicted of or plead guilty to two or more violent felony offenses that are separated by intervening sentences and are not so closely related to each other and connected in time and place that they constitute a course of criminal conduct. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.132(A)(1)(a).