The following is a video transcript.
U.S. LawShield members in Ohio, I am Wilkes Ellsworth, Independent Program Attorney in Ohio, here to talk to you about another holiday-themed topic that most, if not all of you, already know, but may not think about when you’re caught up in the fun of New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Let’s talk guns, alcohol, and fireworks. I don’t need to tell you that guns and booze don’t mix. They are a bad idea in the general sense of course, but are also a very bad combination when looking at the respective criminal and civil penalties or liabilities one might face should he or she choose to combine the two.
Firearms and Alcohol
What do we all like to do on New Year’s Eve? We go out to a party or a bar. Many might have some cocktails or beers. No harm, right? Well, while we can take our firearms into bars and restaurants normally, we never want to do so if we are drinking alcohol.
Ohio law comes down hard on individuals, even those with permits to carry concealed firearms, if they have consumed any alcohol whatsoever.
Firearms and Fireworks
Please do not incorporate your firearms into your celebrations at home. If you are lighting off fireworks and discharging your guns in the air, there is going to be a problem. In addition to potentially being charged with discharging your firearms in city limits, those rounds have to come down somewhere. I have personally seen people charged with criminal acts related to hitting strangers with rounds fired in the air.
Furthermore, the negligence involved would subject you to civil liabilities as well, which could amount to large monetary losses depending on the severity of the damage to a person or their property. As a quick aside, fireworks are legal in Ohio to buy and to own, but they are not legal to set off. This is likely to be changed based on new legislation soon, but right now you have to take them out of the state within 48 hours of purchasing them.
Until 2015, you actually had to sign a document promising to do just that. That is no longer required. The reality is this is not strictly enforced and you probably already know this, but it’s food for thought. And remember, you cannot sell them without a license, so don’t set up a little side business around the holidays to make some extra money by selling fireworks.
Let’s say you are setting off those fireworks and someone gets injured. You are protected in Ohio under Revised Code 2305.23 if you render aid to a person in distress. You cannot be sued by that person. I know that’s crazy to think that you could be, but it does happen. That person could decide what you did to help them actually caused them further harm. As long as you were not willful or wanton or grossly negligent, or asking for something in return, you will be protected.
Now, if you cause the injury through some action of your own, then under Ohio law you would likely be responsible to provide aid to the person. Generally, you are not under any obligation to come to someone’s aid, but in Ohio, one of the exceptions kicks in if you cause the person’s distress.
To sum up, go out and have a great time. Just do not mix your guns with booze or fireworks displays, and you should be just fine.