As the 2020 election season comes around, recent events can make it unclear what to expect when gun owners prepare to vote. Here’s what you need to know when it comes not only to voting this year, but in navigating the public scenes which become so popular during an election year.
Carrying a Firearm When Voting In Person
Carrying into polling locations has always been a hotly debated subject, and this year is no different. I get so many calls from members asking about the gun laws surrounding where they will cast their ballot.
First off, a quick look at O.R.C. 2923.126 suggests that Ohio does not specifically prohibit the carry of firearms at polling stations. It often comes as a surprise to many when they do not see it in the list of prohibited places in section B, 1 through 8. This is misleading and can cause serious problems to those who simply rely on that list.
As we all know, polling locations are generally set up in certain places including schools, churches, and government buildings and the like. This is where the problems arise.
While polling locations themselves may not be restricted, all of these other places are in fact listed, prohibited places. So unless you are casting your vote at some place that does not fall into one of these categories, you will still be prohibited from carrying on the premises. Some other scenarios to consider.
Yes, you can stand outside a polling place and carry while perhaps passing out literature or representing a candidate or other group. But again, remember where you are. Don’t do so in a school safety zone, for instance, and do not under any circumstances do anything that might be interpreted as interfering with prospective voters or intimidating them in any way.
The Federal law clearly prohibits such acts, so all representations of your firearms must be careful in nature as the interpretation of your gun carry will be strictly construed and many times left up to the interpretation by others, many not necessarily gun friendly. Another is what to do if you happen to be a volunteer or observer at the voting locale. Do not carry even if you happen to be in a location that falls outside one of the prohibited places, as firearm carry is specifically forbidden for individuals in these roles.
Navigating Demonstrations and Protests
Finally, it certainly shouldn’t surprise any of us if we run into demonstrations around election time and close in proximity to polling stations.
Please use common sense, breathe, and take the high road. You have the moral high ground. You are exercising your right to vote and possibly your second amendment right to carry.
Do not allow yourself to be suckered into a confrontation, nor should you seek it, as these things have a tendency to spiral out of control. And I don’t want you in a situation where you have to rely on your firearm to defend yourself against the mob and are vilified or possibly prosecuted for it.
For any questions about voting in the state of Ohio or anything else for that matter, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to me, your Independent Program Attorney.
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