The following is a video transcript.
Wilkes Ellsworth here to discuss a topic many of us probably don’t think about too often: losing or having our firearms stolen and the problems those unfortunate events can cause for the Ohio gun owner.
For our purposes, we are going to treat them as one in the same. We tend not to focus on the unpleasant things in our lives and this topic is certainly one of them, but as conscientious gun owners, we must, consider all potential problems so that we may prepare for them in the event they occur. Think of the quote, “The foundation of confidence is preparation.” We hope it doesn’t happen, but let’s be prepared if it does.
OHIO STATE LAW: ORC 2923.20(A)(8)
Ohio State Law, under ORC 2923.20(A)(8), which is included in the code section entitled Unlawful Transaction in Weapons, mandates that:
“No person shall knowingly fail to report to law enforcement authorities forthwith the loss or theft of any firearm or dangerous ordnance in the person’s possession or under the person’s control.”
Failure to do so is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree, which carries a possible 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. Lost and stolen weapons are treated the same for reporting purposes.
So, what constitutes forthwith? Synonyms include immediately, at once, instantly, directly, right away, now, without delay, without further ado, without hesitation, and unhesitatingly. I think you get the picture. Just think, “I need to notify law enforcement as soon as I determine there has been a theft, or after a reasonable search, the gun is missing, and I need to do so without delay.” If you do so, you will have satisfied your responsibilities under the law.
CIVIL LIABILITY for Negligence
While there aren’t any specific statutes regarding lost or stolen firearms leading to injury or death and outlining the civil liability, like you might find, for instance, in New Jersey, Ohio does operate under the common law definition of negligence.
Negligence is defined as the failure to exercise the degree of care required of a reasonable and prudent person in any given circumstance, resulting in injury or death to another. As such, should you be negligent in the care of your firearm and as the result of such negligence, your firearm is lost or stolen and falls into the hands of someone who uses that firearm to injure or kill another person, a colorable claim could exist that your negligence contributed to the damages suffered, and you could be held liable to some degree—and that degree could be very costly to you.
An example might be leaving your firearm in your unlocked vehicle in a public place, where it is then stolen and used to commit a robbery at a local store thereafter. Should the clerk of the store be injured by that firearm during the robbery, you could be sued for failure to take reasonable precautions and allowing your firearm to fall into the hands of a criminal that then used it against the clerk.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Try to keep records for the guns you own with photographs that could help law enforcement in their recovery efforts.
- Know the model number, serial number, caliber, manufacturer, date and place of loss or theft, and be able to provide a complete statement of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident wherein the firearm went missing. All this can help law enforcement try to recover your firearm.
You might conduct your own investigation by checking with local pawn shops or searching for listings in your area for firearms listed on various firearm classified sites, like armlist.com, or gunbroker.com, or gunauction.com, just to name a few. Remember, you won’t have any luck on classified ads like craigslist or eBay, as they prohibit the sale of guns, so concentrate your own efforts on the gun-specific listing sites if you want to try and locate it yourself. If you are lucky enough to find it, please notify law enforcement and do NOT try to recover it yourself.
Remember, if you have any questions about this topic, lost or stolen firearms, or any other topic for that matter, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to be connected with me, your Independent Program Attorney, and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.
Vital Identity Theft Coverage
A gun is stolen from a responsibly armed American like you every 52 seconds. Stay one step ahead of the legal nightmare you’ll face if someone commits a crime with your stolen firearm. Call or log in to your member portal today to add Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage to your U.S. LawShield membership.