On December 19, 2016, Ohio Governor Kasich signed Amended Substitute Senate Bill 199 (SB 199). SB 199 allows active members of the military who have completed firearms training to carry concealed firearms as though they had concealed carry permits. This bill also provides procedures for traffic stops and penalties for military personnel who aren’t able to promptly produce military identification cards while carrying concealed handguns. The bill becomes effective on or about March 20, 2017.

Of note to Ohio employers, the bill, in Ohio Revised Code Section 2923.1210, prohibits “[a] business entity, property owner, or public or private employer” from establishing, maintaining or enforcing “a policy or rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting a person who has been issued a valid concealed handgun license from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition.” According to the bill, firearms and ammunition must remain in the person’s private motor vehicle while the person is in the motor vehicle and must be stored in a locked box or compartment within the privately owned motor vehicle when the person is not in the motor vehicle. The motor vehicle must also be in a location where it is permitted to be.

The law shields business entities, property owners and employers from liability associated with actions involving a firearm or ammunition permitted pursuant to the law, provided that the business entity, property owner or employer has not “intentionally solicited or procured the other person’s injurious actions.”

In sum, employers cannot enact policies or rules that prohibit employees authorized to carry concealed weapons and ammunition from storing weapons and ammunition in their privately owned vehicles. The weapons and ammunition must be secured in the vehicle, and the vehicle must be in an authorized location.

Previous versions of the bill had included a specific provision making it an unlawful discriminatory practice to discriminate against persons holding valid concealed handgun licenses, but that provision has been removed from the final law. Employers in Ohio should review their employment policies to be sure they are in compliance with this new bill before its effective date in March 2017.