Ohio’s hate and gun laws have significant gaps that allow people to keep and access guns, including assault weapons, after they have been convicted of violent hate crimes.
Access to Guns for People Convicted of Hate Crimes in Ohio
|Violence with Severe Bodily Injury||Violence with Bodily Injury||Other Crimes Involving Intentional Use of Force||Threats with Deadly Weapons|
Other Credible Threats to Physical Safety
|Federal Law||Very limited or no access||Significant access||Significant access||Significant access|
|State Law||Very limited or no access||Significant access||Some access||Some access|
Ohio makes it an offense (called “ethnic intimidation”) to commit specified misdemeanors “by reason of the race, color, religion, or national origin” of a victim or victims.1 (Disability, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation are not included as protected categories). Under this law, ethnic intimidation offenses are treated as one degree higher than the underlying crime,2 so certain misdemeanors are reclassified as lower-level (“fifth degree”) felonies punishable by up to 12 months.3
Under Ohio law, people are generally prohibited from accessing guns if they have been convicted of a violent felony,4 but Ohio does not prohibit people convicted of violent misdemeanors from accessing guns for any period of time. Federal law is somewhat broader, prohibiting firearm access by people convicted of a felony punishable by over one year in prison, or a state law misdemeanor punishable by more than two years.5 Ohio does not make misdemeanors or fifth degree felonies punishable by terms long enough to trigger this federal law,6 so people are only subject to federal firearm restrictions if they have been convicted of at least a fourth-degree felony in Ohio.
As a result, hate crime offenders in Ohio are generally prohibited from accessing guns under both Ohio and federal law only if they have been convicted of violent felonies involving serious physical harm or stalking with threats of violence.7 People convicted of fifth degree felonies, or hate crimes elevated to fifth degree felonies, like certain hate-motivated threats of serious physical harm, are restricted under state but not federal law.8
However, people convicted of violent hate-motivated misdemeanors in Ohio generally remain eligible to access guns under both state and federal law, including those convicted of injuring a victim in a hate crime assault,9 criminally threatening violence, or causing evacuation of a public place through threats of violence.10
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- Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2927.12. Judges may also consider hate-motivation in sentencing for felonies. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2929.12(A).
- Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2927.12(B).
- See Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2901.02(A); 2929.14(A)(5).
- Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2923.13(A)(2); Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2901.01(9).
- 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1); 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20)(B).
- Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2929.14(A)(5); § 2929.24(A)(1). Under Ohio law, fifth degree felonies are punishable by a maximum term of 12 months in prison so do not trigger federal restrictions applicable to felonies punishable by a term “exceeding one year.”
- Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2923.13(A); 2903.11; 2903.12 (aggravated assault); 2903.211(B)(2)(b) (stalking with threats of physical harm).
- Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2903.21 (aggravated menacing reclassified as fifth degree felony).
- Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2903.13 (first degree misdemeanor assault, not eligible for reclassification under ethnic intimidation statute).
- Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 2903.22 (menacing, reclassified as third degree misdemeanor under ethnic intimidation statute); 2917.31 (first degree misdemeanor “inducing panic,” not eligible for reclassification under ethnic intimidation statute).