Weapons Disability Relief - Update
In the years since I originally posted here about weapons disability relief, I've had the chance to speak with many, many people who had questions or wanted help. In some of those cases I was able to get involved and work to get their gun rights restored.
Here are some things to consider -
1) Not all offenses create a weapons disability under Ohio law - only felony offenses of violence and felony drug offenses. So if you go to a judge with a felony theft on your record and ask for relief, she might tell you to go away because you're not under a disability. There are some arguable exceptions, but it really depends on the specific facts of the case.
2) Any felony (and some misdemeanors) create a disability under federal law. So any offense (state or federal) punishable by a year or more in prison means no more guns.
3) There is no federal disability relief (technically it exists in the law, but it hasn't been funded for a couple of decades). However, federal law recognizes state disability relief.... But the states and feds aren't very good at communicating, so even if you get your rights back from Ohio, you might have more work ahead of you in order to be able to purchase a firearm at a dealer or obtain a concealed carry license.
I may have some more thoughts on this issue in the near future. In the meantime, if you're reading this and have comments or questions, let me know -
Weapons Disability Relief
In Ohio, there are a number of things that can keep someone from being able to legally buy/own/possess a firearm, such as being mentally ill, having addiction issues, and - most commonly - being convicted of a violent or drug-related offense. Someone falling into one of those categories is considered to have what's known as a "disability" for purposes of Ohio weapons laws.
Now, not only is someone with a "disability" prohibited from acquiring, owning, or having a weapon of any kind, but the penalties for getting caught with a weapon are more severe than those levied upon the non-disabled.
Carrying Concealed Weapons ("CCW") is a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio, which means it carries a maximum of 180 days in jail and/or $1,000 fine [If the gun is loaded or ammo is close at hand, though, the charge becomes a felony of the fourth degree ("F-4"), which is 6-18 months and/or $5,000 fine].
If a person has a "disability" and is caught with a weapon, it gets much worse - regardless of whether the weapon is loaded, Having Weapons While Under Disability (O.R.C. §2923.13) is a F-3, with a possible sentence of 9 to 36 months in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine. All for simply having a gun.
To illustrate, let's say John, at age 18, is caught with a small amount of cocaine, and is convicted of F-5 possession. Fast forward 20 years. John has a good job, nice house, and great family. However, there has been a rash of break-ins in their neighborhood, with the latest being right next door. John wants to buy a gun to protect his family, BUT he has a drug-related conviction on his record (a "disability") and therefore cannot buy one.
So is John out of luck because of one stupid decision he made as a young man?
In Ohio, a person with a "disability" can seek relief from the common pleas court in the county where the person lives. By filing a motion (containing the necessary information as required by the statute - O.R.C. §2923.14), a person can begin the process of (hopefully) getting the "disability" removed.
Keep in mind that this process is adversarial in nature (meaning the government will oppose the motion and do its best to keep the petitioner saddled with the "disability"), so it's probably not a bad idea to talk to a lawyer.