There are some who view the state’s current concealed carry law as vague when it comes to the issue of whether or not concealed carry is permitted in churches or other places of worship.
Existing law prohibits concealed carry in churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship unless those locations opt to permit it. Therein lies the confusion. How is a person to know whether a church permits the concealed carry within its premises as there are no specific signage requirements to inform the public of the permissibility of firearms? It puts law abiding permit holders at risk of criminal charges and penalties if they guess wrong.
The answer, according to Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), is to treat churches and other places of worship as private property under HB 452 that he sponsored.
In testimony submitted to the Ohio House’s State Government Committee last week, Vitale stated “[W]hat this bill does not do is allow CCW in a place of worship. It simply puts worship space under the same rules as all other private property, making things consistent and simple for Ohioans.”
HB 452 would generally permit license holders to carry concealed handguns into places of worship, unless those locations post signs prohibiting such carrying, as is the law for most other private property owners in the state. If the church does not want guns within its premises, it could simply post a sign barring firearms. Vitale believes such a change in the existing law would clear up any confusion there may be.
However, HB 452 was introduced last February 9th by Vitale and referred to the House’s State Government Committee where it remains. The bill did not have its initial hearing until last week, and its future is uncertain as the House’s voting session ends in mid-December. — by Michael Wisdom, Senior Contributing Editor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield Blog