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Removing Disability and Restoring Gun Rights in Ohio

Gun owner’s rights in Ohio have been a hot topic of conversation in Ohio recently.  As you can read in our articles about the recent “stand your ground” laws in Ohio, or about the “Constitutional carry” law going into effect in June 2022, there have been some significant changes to the laws as they previously stood in Ohio.  Of course, laws about how you can use or carry a firearm only matter if you are allowed to own a firearm in the first place.  Some Ohioans, including many of our clients, are not allowed to own a weapon because they are subject to firearm disability based on something in their life, normally a criminal record.  In this article, we will discuss what firearm disabilities are, how you can be subject to them in Ohio, and what, if anything you can do about the disability once you have it.

What is Weapons Disability?

In legal terms, “disability” is used to mean a prohibition of some kind, in this case a prohibition from owning or using a weapon in some capacity.  By default, a U.S. citizen who is of the appropriate age is allowed to own a weapon (ages differ depending on the state and on the weapon).  However, under certain conditions (normally as the  result of a criminal record) residents of any state, including Ohio can have their right to own weapons revoked.  This revocation or prohibition is referred to as disability.  When we talk about being relieved from firearm disability, it means the same thing as having your gun rights restored.

Is it Possible to Have your Gun Rights Restored in Ohio?

Under some circumstances, yes.  It is possible to be relieved of your weapons disability in Ohio.  In other words, it is possible to have your gun rights restored in some situations in Ohio.  Keep in mind that the fact that something is possible does not mean that it is guaranteed to happen.  The laws on relief from disability can be rather involved, and we cannot write here about every factor in every situation.  Furthermore, the Courts have some room to interpret most situations, and may decide that removing the disability is not the correct action in a particular case for many possible reasons.

What are the Requirements for Having Gun Rights Restored in Ohio?

In order to have gun rights restored in Ohio, you first have to qualify under section 2923.14 of the Ohio Revised Code, and you have to apply to have your disability removed. The application outlines several relevant facts:

– The details of the previous case that caused the disability to be placed

– The Court has the authority to remove the disability

– You are fit to have your rights restored.

The first part is self explanatory; obviously to want the disability removed, you must be under the disability in the first place.  We address the other two requirements below:

When Does the Court Have the Authority to Restore Gun Rights?

Under ORC 2923.14, an Ohio Court can grant relief from disability under the right conditions.  The question is whether the person applying for relief from disability is fit to have gun rights restored, as we discuss below.  There is also the question of whether an Ohio Court can remove disability placed at a federal level as well as the state level.  This is the question we discuss in the following section.

 

Can an Ohio Court Restore Gun Rights at the State and Federal Level?

According to the Ohio Revised Code, a person can apply for the relief from disability in the county where they were convicted. While this normally means they will  apply in the State level Court, that Court does indeed sometimes have the authority to relieve the disability at the state and federal level.

As we explain in one of our articles discussing the upcoming changes to Ohio concealed carry laws, you can be placed on firearm disability under the Ohio Revised Code section 2923.13, and under federal law 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) to (9).  Whether your firearm disability was placed under this Ohio law, federal law, or both, it is possible to have the disability removed in Ohio Court.  The question of whether an Ohio Court could relieve disability placed under federal law may seem complex, but it has been dealt with in Ohio before.  This question came up in an Appellate case, State ex. rel. Suwalski v. Peeler in 2019.  The 12th Appellate District in that case cited 2011 H.B. No. 54, Section 3:

“The General Assembly is explicitly making this amendment to clarify that relief from a weapons disability granted under section 2923.14 of the Revised Code restores a person’s civil firearm rights to such an extent that the uniform federal ban on possessing any firearms at all, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1), does not apply to that person[.]”

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not a guarantee that every Ohio Court in every case will grant relief to federal disability.  This only shows that it is possible.

Who Can Have Gun Rights Restored in Ohio?

As stated above, ORC 2923.14(D) recites several things that need to be in place for an Application to Restore Gun rights to be approved.  As you can see the rules are slightly different depending on the reason the disability is placed in the first place.  However, it will always be required that the applicant has led a law abiding life and is not otherwise prohibited from acquiring, having, or using firearms.

Who Cannot Have Gun Rights Restored in Ohio?

One of the reasons the Court may not have the authority to relieve the disability is because ORC 2923.14 does not allow persons with certain criminal records to apply for relief of firearms disability. You become ineligible if you are guilty of Use of Firearm or Dangerous Ordinance by a Violent Career Criminal.  You also may not be able to apply if you have been convicted of or pled guilty to two or more felonies and specifications of the following types:

  • Firearm on or about Offender’s Person or under Offender’s Control Specification
  • Automatic Firearm or Firearm Muffler or Suppressor Specification
  • Firearm Displayed, Brandished, Indicated that Offender Possessed the Firearm, or Used it to Facilitate Offense Specification
  • Firearm Discharged from Vehicle Specification
  • Discharged Firearm at Peace Officer or Corrections Officer Specification
  • Specification of Violent Career Criminal

Conclusion

When it comes to legal issues, there are many factors that can change the outcome of a specific case.  We would like to reiterate that the possibilities discussed in this case are things that are allowed to happen under Ohio law but are not a guaranteed outcome of any specific case.   If you have had your gun rights revoked, are placed under disability, or have any other legal questions, feel free to contact Dearie, Fischer and Mathews to work with attorneys who have decades of experience in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas.

 

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