Under Ohio law, county sheriffs are responsible for issuing Concealed Handgun Licenses. It’s important to note that Ohio does not issue Concealed Weapons Licenses (CCW), but rather Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHL). The laws pertaining to concealed weapons still apply to a CHL holder, with certain exceptions for handguns. In other words, even if a person has a CHL it is still legally possible for them to be charged with carrying a concealed weapon that is something other than a handgun – a knife for example. That responsibility includes the issuance of new licenses as well as the suspension and revocation of existing licenses.

The application process begins by filling out the required application, paying the application fee, and submitting a photograph, and having your fingerprints taken. You will also have to present proof of completion of the required training. Some Sheriff’s departments will process the application by appointment only and do it while you wait. Other departments allow walk-ins, but will then process the application and contact you at a later date. You should call ahead to the Sheriff’s department in your jurisdiction to see how they process applications.

If the application is denied, the Sheriff must notify the applicant in writing and state the reason for the denial. In the first quarter of 2017, there were 402 licenses denied versus the 24,516 that were issued. Only 0.016% of license applications were denied. A relatively small number – but significant only if your application wasn’t the one being denied.

Ohio Sheriffs are also required to suspend a person’s license if they are charged with a disqualifying offense, indicted on any felony, or are subject to a protection order. The Sheriff must notify the person in writing as to the basis of the suspension. The responsibility for this notification falls on the Sheriff who issued the license. Not necessarily the Sheriff of the county of the person’s residence.

If a person is convicted of an offense that would disqualify them from holding a CHL, the Sheriff shall revoke their license. This revocation shall be in writing and include the basis for the revocation. The applicant can then challenge the basis for the denial.

If you are denied a CHL the first step is to determine the reason for the denial. The overwhelming majority of denials are based upon a disqualifying conviction. If the basis for the denial is something else, that needs to be addressed as well. Normally a denial may be because the person failed to complete training that is acceptable to the Sheriff. The best way to prevent this is to locate a training facility that the Sheriff’s office regularly accepts.

If the denial is for a criminal check – you need to determine what the conviction was for, was it correctly entered, and is there anything that can be done about it. When CHL licenses were first issued, the Attorney General of Ohio said that an expungement of a person’s record would not eliminate that conviction from consideration for purposes of the CHL application. That has changed. The legislature clarified the CHL statute and that an expunged offense will not be able to be considered in the application process by the Sheriff. With the amendment of the expungement statute in Ohio, people who were not eligible for a CHL may now have the opportunity to become eligible.

The most common reasons for denial of CHLs are because of disqualifying criminal offenses and having a protection order granted against the applicant/license holder. A complete list of disqualifying convictions can be located at ORC 2923.125(D)(1)(d)-(j) but most often include:

a) Any felony conviction or indictment,
b) A charge concerning the possession, sale, use, or administration of a drug of abuse,
c) Assault where the victim is a police officer,
d) Domestic Violence,
e) Imposition of a temporary protection order or civil protection order.

The Sheriff is also required to suspend a person’s CHL if they are charged or indicted for an offense where a conviction would result in the revocation of the license. The Sheriff will terminate the suspension if the person is acquitted of the offense. If the basis is a protection order – if that protection order is terminated then the Sheriff will end the suspension of the CHL.

A less common reason for suspension or denial is if a person becomes mentally incompetent or a habitual alcoholic or drug addicted person. There are various civil actions that can be filed against a person to have them declared incompetent because of mental health issues or addiction issues. If this were to occur, the Sheriff, upon learning of the issue, is required to suspend or revoke the person CHL.

Regardless of the reason for a denial, suspension, or revocation – it is important to obtain legal counsel at the earliest opportunity upon learning that your license is going to be suspended or revoked. At Suhre & Associates, LLC we are experienced in helping individuals navigate the process and appealing both suspensions and denials of CHLs. Several of the attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC are active in the shooting sports and have competed as well as hold NRA certifications as firearms instructors. Mr. Suhre has been admitted and testified in several courts as a firearms expert. If you need help with your CCW or CHL permit, please call today.