Quick Legal Facts
Ohio law provides that one may not carry in a concealed manner a "deadly weapon," as that term is statutorily defined.
Ohio law prohibits the possession of a "deadly weapon" on any ‘School Safety Zone’ which includes, a school, school building, school premises, school activity, and school bus.
At a Glance:
State restrictions applicable generally to the concealed carry of knives have been removed effective April 12, 2021. Any knife may be carried openly or concealed provided it “was not used as a weapon.” Location-specific “deadly weapon” restrictions for “school safety zones” and court facilities remain in place.
R.C. § 2923.11 Definitions
R.C. § 2923.12 Carrying concealed weapons; affirmative defenses
R.C. § 2923.122 Conveyance or possession of deadly weapons or dangerous ordnance in school safety zone
R.C. § 2923.123 Illegal conveyance, possession or control of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance in a courthouse
R.C. § 2923.131 Possession of a deadly weapon while under detention
R.C. § 2923.20 Unlawful transactions in weapons
Not a problem.
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer:
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations/Circumstances:
It is unlawful to possess a “deadly weapon” as defined by § 2923.11 (A) within a “school safety zone” or a “courthouse.” A “school safety zone” includes a school, school building, school premises, school activity, and/or a school bus. A “courthouse” includes a building in which a courtroom is located.
No. Weapon and knife restrictive municipal ordinances are not uncommon in Ohio.
Knife restrictions at the state level are based on the statutory definition of “deadly weapon” as set forth in § 2923.11 (A):
As used in sections 2923.11 to 2923.24 of the Revised Code
“Deadly weapon” means any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.
Accordingly, a knife may be a “deadly weapon” if:
- It is capable of inflicting death, and
- It is designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or
- It is possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.
There is no presumption that a knife is a “deadly weapon.” The prosecution must prove the elements included in the definition as appropriate. State v. Cathel 713 N.E.2d 52 (1998).
Effective April 12, 2021, section 2923.12 captioned Carrying concealed weapons; affirmative defenses was amended to add sub-part (H):
(H) For purposes of this section, “deadly weapon” or “weapon” does not include any knife, razor, or cutting instrument if the instrument was not used as a weapon.
The exclusion of knives from the restrictions of § 2923.12 Carrying concealed weapons; affirmative defenses applies only to the section and notwithstanding that the knife may have been concealed or carried about the person as a weapon. The sub-part (H) exclusion is vitiated only if the knife is used as a weapon.
The statutory definition of “deadly weapon” is applicable to the location-specific restrictions for school safety zones and court facilities.
The sub-part of § 2923.20 Unlawful transactions in weapons which made it unlawful to manufacture, sell, or furnish any “switchblade knife,” “springblade knife,” or “gravity knife,” among other things, was removed effective April 12, 2021.
Specific Location Restriction
It is unlawful to possess a “deadly weapon” as defined by § 2923.11 (A) in a school safety zone or a courthouse. It is also unlawful for a person “while under detention” per § 2923.131. Circumstances of possession may be a factor in applying the definition. A common nail four inches in length taped to the defendant’s prison cot was held to be a “deadly weapon” in the possession of a person under detention. State v. Samples (2005) Unreported.
As a matter of caution, we suggest that knives not be carried by school students or visitors or by persons entering a courthouse. Possession of a deadly weapon in either location is a 5th-degree felony punishable by up to confinement for 12 months and/or a fine of $2,500.
Preemption, Local Ordinances
Some Ohio municipalities, Dayton as an example, have weapon ordinances that mimic the ‘’deadly weapon” state law. While these ordinances may have been derived from state law, they are not automatically altered by the recent amendments discussed above.
The Ohio State Constitution provides for uniformity in Article II §26:
All laws, of a general nature, shall have a uniform operation throughout the State; nor, shall any act, except such as relates to public schools, be passed, to take effect up on the approval of any other authority than the General Assembly, except, as otherwise provided in this constitution.
Notwithstanding, non-uniform knife restrictions exist at the local level. While AKTI has achieved the goal of amelioration of knife law in Ohio, we will continue the effort to achieve a uniform state standard by way of legislative preemption.
Law Enforcement /Military
Ohio law allows substantial exceptions for law enforcement and U.S. Military along with officers from other states as to the concealed carry section 2923.12:
(C)(1) This section does not apply to any of the following:
(a) An officer, agent, or employee of this or any other state or the United States, or to a law enforcement officer, who is authorized to carry concealed weapons or dangerous ordnance or is authorized to carry handguns and is acting within the scope of the officer’s, agent’s, or employee’s duties;
Similar provisions exist with those sections pertaining to school zones and court facilities.
Updated March 26, 2021, by Daniel C. Lawson