State Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wayne County) and the Ohio House passed House Bill 425, known as the Duty to Notify When Asked Law. The legislation clarifies ambiguous language and removes the severe penalties associated with the ambiguous language, protecting the rights of concealed handgun license (CHL) holders across the state. Wiggam spoke to the bill on the House floor.
“Under current law, the duty to notify a police officer of carrying a firearm is vaguely written and carries harshest penalties in the nation for Ohio’s more than 673,000 CHL holders – this has intruded on the constitutional rights of too many Ohioans,” said Wiggam.
Under current law, a licensee stopped for any law enforcement purpose must notify law enforcement “promptly” that they are carrying a handgun. This is ambiguous language that has caused confusion because it has been interpreted differently. House Bill 425 clarifies that an individual must only notify if the officer asks if they are carrying a firearm.
“Ohio citizens deserve to have laws that are understandable and clearly defined. The current law is ambiguous and arbitrarily enforced, we need to decriminalize normal encounters when upstanding citizens are engaging with law enforcement,” said Wiggam. “This law gives control of the dialogue back to the law enforcement officer by allowing them to ask if the person they stop is carrying a concealed handgun. A concealed handgun license holder no longer must interject themselves into the conversation with a law enforcement officer.”
Additionally, current law has a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. House Bill 425 removes the penalty for violating duty to notify, but an individual is still required by law to comply with an officer’s order.
This bill also takes away reasons to unnecessarily charge law-abiding Ohioans. For example, if someone doesn’t “promptly” notify the officer, they can be additionally charged with failure to comply with an officer, leading to further unprecedented and unintended incidents that could have been prevented.
Wiggam also noted 41 other states do not have a duty to notify for their concealed carry holders, and of the nine states that do have the law, Ohio currently has the most severe penalty for violating the duty to notify.
“Not only would this bill bring Ohio in line with the vast majority of other states, it would also bring Ohio in line with Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and West Virginia,” said Wiggam.
The legislation now heads to the Senate for further action.