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Ohio law defines the term “[d]angerous ordnance” to include any “automatic firearm.”1 “Automatic firearm” means any firearm designed or specially adapted to fire a succession of cartridges with a single function of the trigger.2

It is generally unlawful to knowingly acquire, have, carry, or use any dangerous ordnance without a license or permit.3 Ohio law allows the sheriff of a county or safety director or police chief of a municipality to, in his or her discretion, issue a license or temporary permit to acquire, possess, carry, or use dangerous ordnance to any responsible person, so long as the dangerous ordnance was lawfully acquired, possessed, and carried, and is used for a legitimate research, scientific, educational, industrial, or other proper purpose.4 The applicant must reside or have his or her principal place of business in the county or municipality, must be age 21 or over, and it must appear that the applicant has “sufficient competence to safely acquire, possess, carry, or use the dangerous ordnance, and that proper precautions will be taken to protect the security of the dangerous ordnance and ensure the safety of persons and property.”5 The issuing authority may list any “restrictions on the acquisition, possession, carriage, or use of the dangerous ordnance as the issuing authority considers advisable to protect the security of the dangerous ordnance and ensure the safety of persons and property.”6 The issuing authority must forward a copy of all such licenses and permits to the state fire marshal.7

Anyone who is transferring any dangerous ordnance to another must require the transferee to exhibit the license of permit, and must take a complete record of the transaction and forward a copy of that record to the sheriff of the county or safety director or police chief of the municipality where the transaction takes place.8

Ohio law also penalizes any person who, in acquiring, possessing, carrying, or using any dangerous ordnance, negligently fails to take proper precautions to secure the dangerous ordnance against theft, or against its acquisition or use by any unauthorized or incompetent person, or to insure the safety of persons and property.9

Federal law requires machine guns to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and generally prohibits the transfer or possession of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986.10

 See our Machine Guns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue. 

  1. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.11(K).[]
  2. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.11(E).[]
  3. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.17.[]
  4. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.18(A).[]
  5. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.18(C).[]
  6. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.18(D).[]
  7. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.18(G). For further information about these permits and licenses, see Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.18.[]
  8. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.20(A)(4).[]
  9. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.19(A).[]
  10. 18 U.S.C. § 922(o); 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d).[]