The possibility of a catastrophic fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane, and tornado is always looming over us, and if the last few years have shown us anything, it is the old adage that, “Before anything, preparation is the key to success.” Can we ever really be too prepared for what Mother Nature might throw at us?

As we saw in Dayton with the tornadoes a year ago, things can get dangerous quickly, and without much warning. So let’s talk about natural disasters, firearms, and what you need to know or contemplate, just in case.

What The Law Says

Three points I want to briefly touch on today are: the law, while such circumstances exist; preparation; and caution during these trying times.

First of all, there are no specific Ohio regulations focused on natural disasters that change firearm laws in the Ohio Revised Code. But that said, there are circumstances which could dictate a change in the law on at least a temporary basis. Comprehensive emergency management plans enacted on local and state levels which could potentially go into effect, as well as the declaration of a state of emergency, might change things.

During a state of emergency, the governor might enact restrictions on state law, which could affect gun rights to an extent, but not necessarily in a bad way. Consider that restrictions on firearm transportation in vehicles, for example, could be relaxed, as people hectically pack and move their belongings. Obviously, the severity of the incident would dictate the actions of governing officials, but this is something to be mindful of nevertheless.

Firearm Preparation

Preparation for weather incidents is very important as well. I suggest thought be given to what you will do with your firearms before Mother Nature calls. You may only be able to take certain ones, so choose what’s best for you under the circumstances, and store the others safely. Safe storage not only keeps them from being stolen while you are away for what could be an extended period of time, but also from being destroyed by the elements. Do not leave them locked in vehicles, as these make easy targets for looters and thieves. And remember, gun safes provide protection but are susceptible to water and fire, so plan accordingly.

Additional Provisions

As you would have food and other provisions ready and available, I would suggest you also have sufficient ammunition and other tactical provisions, such as light, fuel, generators, etc. on hand.

Finally, exercise caution. Emotions run high during these events. People will be anxious, nervous, suffering loss and displacement, and potentially acting on desperation. Police will likely be occupied with other things. As we saw in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, things can get out of hand quickly. Avoid confrontation and try to conceal firearms to reduce tensions that are already going to be high. Don’t be that guy or gal strapped with an AR-15, walking through the middle of downtown. It is obviously a good idea to be armed and ready, but let’s be smart about it.

In the end, I hope none of us ever has to face such trying times, but let’s know the law, prepare, and exercise caution should we have to.

As always, please call U.S. LawShield if you would like to discuss this topic or any other, and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.


ALERT: Make sure to check all state and local laws and reach out to your Independent Program Attorney as you prepare for emergency situations. Click here for the latest webinar discussion regarding travel restrictions during a pandemic with Sam Malone, featuring Independent Program Attorneys David Katz, James Reeves, Emily Taylor, and Richard Hayes.

The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.