By Marc Kovac
Ohio residents with concealed-carry permits soon will be able to carry their hidden firearms into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, as long as they’re not imbibing and the owners of those establishments say it’s OK.
Gov. John Kasich signed into law Senate Bill 17 at a private ceremony this week.
The legislation passed the Ohio Senate and House earlier this month on mostly party-line votes, with Democrats opposing.
The new law will take effect in three months.
Existing law prohibits concealed-carry licensees from taking firearms into rooms or open-air arenas covered by type D liquor permits, including retail stores, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, river boats, and shopping malls.
Senate Bill 17 allows concealed-carry permit holders to enter those establishments with their firearms as long as they are not consuming or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Businesses will still be allowed to post signs prohibiting firearms on their premises.
Proponents of the legislation said existing state law is confusing and could lead to concealed-carry permit holders’ unknowingly breaking the law.
But opponents said alcohol and firearms should not be mixed.
The new law also changed requirements for transporting firearms in motor vehicles. Among other provisions, the bill allows loaded handguns to be carried in motor vehicles “regardless of whether [they are] secured in a holster, case, bag or box.”
Kasich also signed House Bill 54, which puts state law in line with federal statutes related to the restoration of firearms ownership rights.
“HB54 is critical to those who have had their Second Amendment rights restored in an Ohio court,” Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim Irvine said in a statement.