11/13/08 UPDATE: Chris Harben reports that he spoke with Senator Steve Buehrer's office and has been told ODOT will be removing the signs from the Visitor Centers as well.

We're posting an update on the issue of "No Gun Allowed" signs posted at Ohio Rest Stops in response to the false rumor circulating that the Ohio Department Of Transportation (ODOT) has already agreed to take all the signs down. Ever since this misinformation began going out, we have been getting calls and emails from people reporting that they are still seeing the signs up at some rest areas.

For a brief background, when SB184 went into law on September 9, one of the changes was that government owned buildings used "primarily as a shelter, restroom, parking facility for motor vehicles, or rest facility" are no longer places where a person with a CHL is banned from carrying their concealed firearm. This covers rest stops.

As noted in our forums, OFCC began sending out letters to the ODOT District offices, as well as ODOT's Chief Legal Counsel Cathy Cola Perkins, on September 28 "seeking a comprehensive review of every rest stop, shelter, rest facility, parking facility, etc." This began our efforts in getting the signs removed. Sadly, ODOT was not as quick to react taking the signs down as they were in putting them up.

While official efforts were underway, members of OFCC and our forums also worked independently to help resolve the issue. In particular, Chris Harben asked about who he could speak to in order to get the sign taken down at a rest stop on I-70 in mid-October. That inquiry did not go well. After Harben was threatened with arrest for menacing by the Ohio Highway Patrol, he and several others, began making additional inquiries. Harben was doing so well, OFCC backed off on internal efforts and Harben has been acting on our behalf ever since.

In late October, an email began circulating by someone claiming ODOT was taking all the signs down. However, despite false claims to the contrary, the situation had not been completely resolved, which is why there are still signs up at some facilities.

On November 10, Harben spoke with Gary Wilhelm, Deputy Director of Facilities and Equipment for ODOT. Wilhelm stated that signs were coming down only for "regular" rest areas. They were still waiting for a decision from his superiors whether Visitor Centers were covered as well, so rest stops with a Visitor Center are still posted at this time. Harben also is looking into alleged ODOT claims that open carry is illegal in Rest Facilities, which of course it is not.

As soon as we have a final resolution or meaningful updates, we will post the information here and in our forums. In the meantime, please continue to be patient with the process.

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