PUTNAM COUNTY — Senate bill 199, an update to Ohio’s concealed carry law, went into effect on March 22. Now the Putnam County Commissioners are considering a proposed revision to its conceal carry policy for county employees in order to bring the county into compliance with the state law.

For many employers, and not just the county, conceal carry can pose a challenge between recognizing second amendment rights and complying with the law, while still providing the safest possible work environment for all employees. When speaking of the law and proposed county policy, Commissioner John Love says, “We have to comply now. What we are trying to do is craft a policy that will work, and abide by the law, because there are a few [county] buildings that you really cannot give permission to carry.”

This is a sentiment echoed by Putnam County Republican Party’s Vice-Chair and Ottawa Ordinance employee Steve Wynn, “I don’t blame them. I think, government offices, especially today, you’ve got a good portion of people that are active against anything that’s government. You’ve got to let [government employees] do their jobs without worrying who’s coming down the hall and how they might act.”

Love continues, “We need to meet with our property and casualty [insurance] carrier who is advising us on recommendations. We’re trying to be compliant with our carrier, and abide by the law at the same time. That is splitting hairs. We have to get [our

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agent] in here, and our claims adjuster on the phone. We need to have a better understanding before we do anything policy-wise. I want a better understanding of hour our rates might change.” The law does grant civil immunity to public and private colleges and universities for any injuries or death that may result from the actions of a conceal carry holder on campuse. It remains unclear if or how that provision might apply more broadly to employers such as the county.

Conceal carry is already banned on all county property, and that is not likely to change. The primary update to the law allows for conceal carry permit holders to store their guns and ammo in their private vehicle while at work. Weapons and ammo must be stored in a locked vehicle, either in a lockbox, a locked glove compartment, or the trunk. Previously, concealed carry holders were prohibited from carrying their guns anywhere on county property, including county owned parking lots. This recent change is viewed as a way to help conceal carry holders comply with workplace and other restrictions without inadvertently running afoul of the law.

Regarding these changes, Wynn continues, “I think it’s a very good idea. Allowing the law abiding citizen to carry, along as they’re licensed to carry.”

Current restrictions remain on all county property, which includes the county fairgrounds. Even with the most recent update to the law, conceal carry holders will still not be permitted to carry their weapons during the county fair and similar events held at the fairgrounds. Though the county recognizes the difficulty of ensuring compliance during events such as the county fair, conceal carry holders could potentially face jail time or a fine if caught carrying.

The county can also designate certain individuals or groups to conceal carry on county property. The commissioners are considering designating certain employees as permitted to conceal carry on county property. These persons may be designated for security reasons, and for other instances. For security reasons, it is unlikely that the county will publicize those individuals permitted to conceal carry while working for the county and on county property.

Concealed carry holders may also store guns and ammo in their car while in a school zone; carry guns into non-secure areas of airports, such as baggage claim; carry inside child care facilities, such as daycares, though such facilities may still prohibit guns if they so choose. Active duty military carrying a valid military ID and proof of equivalent small arms training are also automatically eligible to conceal carry in Ohio, so long as they carry such proof of training with them at all times. Notably, this designation does not include full-time national guard members.