Casey Goodson had a concealed handgun license. Here's what that means

Bethany Bruner
The Columbus Dispatch
Casey Goodson

There are more than 75,000 valid holders of licenses to carry a concealed firearm in Franklin County.

One of those people was Casey Goodson Jr., 23, a Black man who was shot and killed on Dec. 4 on Columbus' Northeast Side by Franklin County sheriff's deputy Jason Meade. 

More:What we know about the fatal shooting of Casey Goodson Jr.

Columbus police said Meade witnessed Goodson with a gun and confronted him. Goodson's family said that Goodson likely was carrying a firearm, but they say he was a responsible gun owner. 

Columbus confirmed that Goodson had a valid concealed handgun license.

More:Franklin County Sheriff frustrated by U.S. Marshal's comments over Casey Goodson shooting

The shooting has raised questions about the process for getting a concealed handgun license — commonly called a CHL — and the responsibilities for those who have the license.

Eric Delbert, co-owner of L.E.P.D. Firing Range on the city's Northwest Side and a certified training instructor for CHL classes, and Michael R. Moran, a local attorney, firearms instructor and adjunct professor at Capital University Law School, answered some common questions about the licenses.

What is the difference between a CHL and a CCW license?

Delbert said the terms are often used interchangeably, but a CHL specifically pertains to a license to carry a concealed handgun. A CCW, carrying a concealed weapon license, could apply to any type of weapon and is not limited to firearms. Both licenses are sometimes referred to as permits. 

Who can get a CHL license?

In Ohio, you must be 21 or older and have no criminal convictions that would prohibit you from possessing a firearm, either as a juvenile or an adult. Those who are in the military or law enforcement with advanced firearms training and certification can also carry a concealed firearm.

What does it take to get a CHL license?

Ohio law requires that anyone seeking a concealed carry license complete a training course taught by a certified instructor that is a minimum of eight hours long. There is a requirement that at least two of those hours be in-person training and that the course includes time at a firing range. 

Applicants must pass a test that has a written component and an in-person exam that requires they show competency in firearm safety.

A background check also is performed. Applicants must pay a fee for the background check and application.

Moran said there is an additional FBI background check and fee for applicants that have not lived in the state for five years.

How often do you have to renew the CHL?

Ohio licenses are valid for five years and can be renewed. Permit holders do not have to take the eight-hour course again. 

What obligations do you have as a license holder? 

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost's office has a booklet, available online to anyone, that also is provided to those applying for a CHL license. The booklet describes the responsibilities of the license holder, which include handling the firearm with care, not leaving it available to anyone who does not have the license, and being compliant with law enforcement, especially during traffic stops.

"If a person is stopped for a law enforcement purpose and is carrying a concealed handgun as a CCW licensee, whether in a motor vehicle or not, he shall not knowingly disregard or fail to comply with any lawful order given by any law enforcement officer," the booklet states. Violation of this law is considered a felony.

Columbus police have said that before he fatally shot Goodson multiple times, Deputy Meade ordered Goodson to drop his weapon after he had exited the car he was driving and was about to enter his grandmother's house on Estates Place.

A civilian outside nearby heard the commands but did not witness the shooting, and there is no bodycam video because Franklin County Sheriff's deputies do not have them. Goodson's family says he was carrying Subway sandwiches and house keys in his hands. Columbus police say a handgun was recovered from Goodson, but they have not said specifically where. 

CHL holders also are required to tell law enforcement they have a CHL and have a handgun concealed in their vehicle if they are pulled over. Violations of this requirement can result in a first-degree misdemeanor charge.

Delbert said the biggest issues for CHL holders are safety and being cooperative with law enforcement.

"You need to know when you’re carrying a firearm in any capacity, people don’t know who you are," Delbert said. "You have to comply with the officers on the scene until it gets sorted out. It's not the time to argue with officers when you’re in the field on the side of the road. There’s a day in court and you have to trust the system."

In a traffic stop by an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper on I-71 in Genoa Township in Delaware County earlier this month, a Utah driver had a handgun visible on the passenger seat of his vehicle.

The driver did not comply with orders from a trooper and a Genoa police K-9 officer to keep his hands visible, which prompted the trooper to draw his weapon and grab one of the arms of the driver.

The driver, Merak Burr, a white male who was combative, insisted that having the gun visible in the vehicle meant it wasn't concealed. He ultimately pulled his arm free from the trooper and drove away. He was pursued but the chase was broken off. Burr was later arrested in southwest Ohio.

More:Motorist, stopped for speeding, showed what not to do with loaded gun in car

If you do not have a CHL, a firearm cannot be within reach inside a vehicle, Delbert said. Firearms are also required to be unloaded unless a license is held. Typically, this means the handgun is unloaded and inside the trunk of the vehicle, but can also mean the unloaded handgun is inside a container in the vehicle.

"If you are a concealed handgun licensee, then you can have the gun concealed anywhere in the vehicle," Moran said. 

Delbert also said that CHL records are attached to a person's Bureau of Motor Vehicle records. If a law enforcement officer runs the license plate of a car owned by a CHL holder or the driver's license of a person with the CHL, they will be notified of the license's existence.

"An experienced and well-trained officer who knows the law, and a citizen who knows the law, should have no problems if they both abide by the law," Moran said. 

Can a CHL holder carry their firearm anywhere?

Ohio law specifies certain areas where firearms are prohibited, even if the person has a valid concealed carry license. Those locations include police departments and law enforcement agencies, courthouses, jails, mental health facilities and school safety zones.

Universities and houses of worship also are off limits for concealed carry, unless the university or worship facility has specifically allowed firearms to be carried.

Moran said Ohio laws allow anyone who is a legal possessor of a firearm — with or without a CHL — to carry a visible weapon anywhere except some specifically prohibited places — like jails, school safety zones and some government buildings and private property where restrictions are visibly posted. 

Can a CHL be revoked?

Yes. Licenses can be suspended or revoked. This typically happens if a person is charged with a felony, a violent misdemeanor or drug trafficking related crimes.

If a person is found guilty of a felony, a drug trafficking offense or any offense of violence, their CHL can be permanently revoked. 

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that Merak Burr, the driver in the I-71 stop was not pursued.