The first sign is the one most concealed carry holders should be familiar with and deals with businesses. It is the standard signage for government buildings but the preferred sign by private businesses as well.
There are many variations of the above sign as in Ohio there is no statuatory standard sign. Either sign above is perfectly fine as it gets it's intent across. A 5 year old kid drawing of a gun with a slash through it would work as well. 2923.126 of the ORC simply states: (3) (a) Except as provided in division (C)(3)(b) of this section, the owner or person in control of private land or premises, and a private person or entity leasing land or premises owned by the state, the United States, or a political subdivision of the state or the United States, may post a sign in a conspicuous location on that land or on those premises prohibiting persons from carrying firearms or concealed firearms on or onto that land or those premises. Except as otherwise provided in this division, a person who knowingly violates a posted prohibition of that nature is guilty of criminal trespass in violation of division (A)(4) of section 2911.21 of the Revised Code and is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.
There are two key parts to the above signage. The first part is the sign must be posted in a conspicuous location. At the bottom right hand corner of the store entrance where all the shopping carts park may not be conspicuous. The old UDF sign that was about 4"x6" stuck in the middle of 20 other window stickers may not be conspicuous as well.
The second key part is you have to knowingly violate the sign. Therefore the store and subsequently police need to prove you knew you were not allowed to carry there. Although not required, being informed verbally is the best method. If an employee of a business tells you there is a sign that is all it takes. At that time one should turn around and exit the store. If one chooses to return, they can do so once they are disarmed. Any other action can be construed as criminal trespass. If there is no signage, one can still be arrested for criminal trespass after being told their firearm is not welcome by someone with authority. Technically, the Walmart Greeter can tell you no firearms allowed and require you to disarm before entering. However, most prosecutors will not accept it unless it comes from someone with authority to tell you you are not welcome at the business with the firearm.
Private Parking Lots
The next sign will deal with parking lots.
Again, we are at a non statuatory signage. The first part and third part of 2923.126 of the ORC simply states: (3) (a) Except as provided in division (C)(3)(b) of this section, the owner or person in control of private land or premises, and a private person or entity leasing land or premises owned by the state, the United States, or a political subdivision of the state or the United States, may post a sign in a conspicuous location on that land or on those premises prohibiting persons from carrying firearms or concealed firearms on or onto that land or those premises......If a person knowingly violates a posted prohibition of that nature and the posted land or premises primarily was a parking lot or other parking facility, the person is not guilty of criminal trespass in violation of division (A)(4) of section 2911.21 of the Revised Code and instead is subject only to a civil cause of action for trespass based on the violation.
We still follow the same part as with posting a business in that the sign must be conspicuous.
Also there is no criminal matter to be dealt with when it comes to a parking lot. It is civil trespass and the private entity would need to prove damages to be able to sue. As far as I know, this has never happened in Ohio yet, therefore it's unsure how a private entity can really prove damages. The unknown is if the parking lot is posted, can that also apply to the building. Besides being conspicuous, the ORC does not state where the signage prohibiting carrying in a building must be posted. It only states that the parking lot becomes civil, and does not state that the signage may, or may not, apply to the building on the land or premises as well.
There are also a few public/private entities that the parking lot does become a criminal matter. If not listed here, the lot is not allowed to be posted under the ORC and violation is neither criminal nor civil. Those are as follows listed under 2923.126 section B.
~(B)(1) Premises controlled by the bureau of criminal identification and investigation
~(B)(2) A school safety zone if the licensee’s carrying the concealed handgun is in violation of section 2923.122 of the Revised Code. Section (D)(3) of 2923.122 gives an exception if one is in the immediate process of picking up or dropping their child off at school and they do not exit the vehicle.
~(B)(5) Any premises owned or leased by any public or private college, university, or other institution of higher education, unless the handgun is in a locked motor vehicle or the licensee is in the immediate process of placing the handgun in a locked motor vehicle.
Division of Liquor Control Sign
The final sign is one businesses use as applying to us because it's a mandated sign the business does not fully understand it.
This sign is required posting per the ORC and Ohio Division of Liquor Control for any business that has a class D alcohol permit. Under 2923.121 of the ORC the signage follows section A exactly. However, if one has a concealed handgun license section (B)(1)(e) gives us the authority to carry in that establishment as it states: Any person who is carrying a valid license or temporary emergency license to carry a concealed handgun issued to the person under section 2923.125 or 2923.1213 of the Revised Code or a license to carry a concealed handgun that was issued to the person by another state with which the attorney general has entered into a reciprocity agreement under section 109.69 of the Revised Code , as long as the person is not consuming beer or intoxicating liquor or under the influence of alcohol or a drug of abuse.
Therefore the above sign does not apply to concealed handgun license holders and only applies to those that chose to open carry or carry without a license. Some establishments have chose to post those at the front door, some in the bar area. Posting at the front door does not meet the meaning of the first signage in this posting as it does not mention you cannot carry a firearm on their premises.
The last bit of signage can come from your job employment. This can either come from an employee handbook, a sign on an employee board, or the posting of an employee only lot. This does not matter if one works for a government/public employer or a private employer. The ORC does require signage therefore the employee handbook cannot result in a criminal matter inside the buildings. Signage posted on the employee board, building or lot can result in the same violations as above for the location you happen to be in, criminal for building, and civil for parking lot. Proving the employee board may be the most difficult unless one is required to check it daily and/or sign off that they reviewed it periodically. The ultimate infraction though for any violation when it comes to employment is termination. Ohio is an at-will employment state therefore there is no protection of wrongful termination for a firearm on their property, even in your locked vehicle in the parking lot. Unless one is protected by a union, getting a job back may be impossible.
Some employees may think an employee policy or sign also applies to customers. However, it cannot as how can a customery violate a sign they cannot see prior to entering the store? If the employee is being cool with one, then may be a time to inform that an employee policy cannot apply to customers as they have no way of knowing they violated it. Slyly inform them once, and one time only, that the customer entrances to the store are the only place that can be conspicuously posted for customers.
The last bit is some advice to all. If a business is posted please try to make an effort to get the signage removed. Many businesses post not understanding the full aspects of the law and miss quite a bit of logic behind not posting. OFCC has been very kind in creating a letter What Every Business Owner Needs to Know for us to pass around to businesses. When it comes to private employment, there are mixed views on talking with HR about "no gun" policies. Therefore, I am offering my services to talk to any business to see about persuading them to change their policies. My CHL Class co-instructor has successfully done it at his job and a few work locations that he visits on traveling. The biggest fear is liability, which businesses are immune from but do not understand that they are.
This posting leaves out all statuatory "no carry zones" and is only a guideline for the three most common types of signs private businesses can use to post thier business. This thread is by no means any legal advice and one is advised to consult an attorney for any matters pertaining to a violation of these signs.
Questions Answered From Below
- Q - May I call a store/restaurant/bar and ask which sign they have posted and when they ask why, I'll tell them I want to bring my gun in?
This is highly not recommended. Calling a location prior to arriving to ask about carrying a firearm may cause more harm than good. The problem is depending on who one asks and how they respond to being asked. One may set up the case for the last day of carry in that business. The reason being is whoever one talks to may go higher up the chain and persuade a business to post. After all, one just asked if they can bring a firearm into a business. A more sane example is say a friend visits in their 40' motor home. If they call prior to arriving are you seriously going to say it's OK to park that in your driveway? Now, say they just arrive in it. Most likely you won't tell them to move it. Another theory is, does a police detective call to inform before going in a business? Nope. Therefore if you enter and the business sees the firearm, they may just assume you are an undercover police officer. What they assume is no business to you and not illegal as long as you don't give them any other signs of assumption. It's a bad move no matter how you look at it. If the place is posted, disarm or choose elsewhere. Asking before arriving, is very odd and can set many alarms off. Not to mention your arrival could be met with police eating there to wanting to keep a closer eye on you.
Any changes may be submitted to myself or added to this thread and I will change this post as needed. I appologize in advance for the long length, however, it was needed to cover the signage prohibiting concealed carry.