From Darke County Sheriff Mark E. Whittaker-

(3-15-22) Governor DeWine has signed into law SB 215, which has become known as the “Constitutional Carry” law. It will go into effect June 13, 2022. The law essentially makes the concealed handgun license optional. If you can legally carry or possess a handgun, you will be able to conceal it without a license, training requirement or background check.

This is a significant milestone for Darke County residents over the age of 21 that would like to lawfully carry their handgun concealed but do not want to obtain a license to do so.

The new law has also removed the requirement for those that carry a concealed handgun to promptly inform a law enforcement officer when they come into contact with one.

As a supporter of the second amendment, I understand the importance of your rights to lawfully possess and carry firearms for personal protection or sporting purposes, if you choose. This right is especially important to our citizens that live in the rural areas of Darke County. This law will make it easier for you to exercise this right.

As your Sheriff, and a firearms owner, I am also an advocate of responsible and safe firearms handling. I continue to encourage all firearms owners, new or seasoned to consider attending firearms courses for safety and proficiency. I would also ask that if you are carrying a weapon on you, and find yourself in an interaction with law enforcement, that you voluntarily inform the officer as soon as possible for everyone’s safety. Under the new law, if a law enforcement officer asks if you are carrying a handgun you must answer the officer truthfully.

The Darke County Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide concealed handgun licensing to those who choose to obtain a license just as we have been for the last several years. The benefit to obtaining an Ohio Concealed Handgun License would be the ability to carry a concealed handgun in other states which Ohio has reciprocity agreements. A lack of a license may not permit you to carry in other states. To schedule an appointment to obtain a concealed handgun license go to the Darke County Sheriff’s Office website, www.darkecountysheriff.org.

The administration has been reviewing the law and discussing the impending changes for a couple of weeks. It seems likely the number of licenses that we issue will decrease. As required by law I will continue offering Concealed Handgun Licensing services just as we have been. We will also be training deputies on the changes in the law. The training will consist of a legal update on the law itself. We will also train on how to address citizens during traffic stops and other encounters as it relates to the law. This may include deputies making inquiries about a citizens armed status. Interacting with citizens who are exercising their constitutional rights are nothing new for Darke County Deputies and I do not anticipate any major issues at this point.

It remains to be seen what impact the law will have on crime. I would like to believe that the criminals will think twice about committing crimes in Darke County, given the possibility that more people may be armed to protect themselves. I will not be sympathetic to criminals who receive the wrong end of the gun when a law abiding citizen is protecting themselves.