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Obtaining a Concealed Carry Permit in Oregon

Posted by attorney Diane Gruber

“The people shall have the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State, but the military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power." Article 1, Section 27, Oregon Constitution

The first law to prevent the carrying of concealed weapons appeared in Kentucky in 1813. Very few people owned handguns. The main concern was the concealed carrying of Bowie knives by slaves, freed blacks and abolitionists. By 1850 every Southern state had made it illegal to carry any kind of concealed weapon.

Oregon passed it’s first concealed carry ban in 1917: "No person shall carry in any city, town, or municipal corporation of this state any pistol, revolver or other firearm concealed upon his or her person, or of a size which may be concealed upon his or her person without a license or permit therefore, issued to him or her by a chief of police. . ."

In 1925 Oregon enacted the Firearms Regulatory Act which prohibited handgun ownership without permission from the sheriff or police. Modeled after the Sullivan Law in New York, this permit system required “good moral character" and “good cause." The broad discretion in this system insured that very, very few people without “connections" could legally buy handguns.

The Firearms Regulatory Act also made a felon out of anyone who manufactures, imports, possesses, offers for sale, lends or gives a pistol or revolver. The punishment is five years in prison. Within a few years the entire Act was determined to be unconstitutional.

In 1989, the Oregon Legislature passed a bill that allowed each law-abiding Oregonian to carry a concealed handgun, after receiving a license from the county sheriff. Oregon’s violent crime rate has dropped steadily ever since, and is currently the lowest it has been since 1974.

It is hard to discern whether Measure 11, which passed in 1990 and significantly increased prison sentences, or the Right to Carry statute should receive the credit for lowering Oregon’s violent crime rate. However, studies have shown significant decreases in violent crimes in states after they adopt Right to Carry laws, and slight increases in stealth crimes. The five states with the lowest violent crime rates have long had very permissive gun laws.

U.S. citizens and certain legal resident aliens, over the age of 21, can apply for a concealed handgun license in Oregon. If you fit into all the right categories and don’t fit into the wrong categories the Sheriff MUST issue the license.

Your principal residence must be in the county in which you applied for the license. You cannot be a criminal defendant on pretrial release nor have any outstanding arrest warrants. If you have EVER been convicted of a felony, or have been convicted of a misdemeanor within the last four years, you will not receive a concealed handgun license.

In addition, you must “demonstrate competence with a handgun" in one of seven ways listed in the statute. Unless you can present evidence that you were trained with a handgun while in military service or while competing in organized shooting competitions, OR that you already have, or have had in the past, a handgun permit from another county in Oregon, you must attend a firearms safety training class.

The statute states that the sheriff of your county must give you a concealed handgun permit application form upon request. In order to receive the license you must first fill out the application with your legal name, current & previous addresses for the last three years, current telephone number, date & place of birth, hair & eye color and height & weight. You must also be fingerprinted and photographed.

When submitting your application you must also submit two pieces of current identification, one of which must bear a picture of yourself.

The license fee is $65, out of which $15 goes to the State Police to conduct your fingerprint search. The sheriff’s office keeps the remaining $50. Renewal of an existing license costs $50.

As soon as the sheriff’s office receives your application they are required by the statute to enter your name into the Law Enforcement Data System as a concealed handgun applicant or license holder.

If you own a car, your handgun license will be “connected" to your car’s license plate in the state’s database. When a law enforcement officer runs a check on your vehicle he will become aware that the owner of the vehicle also has a concealed handgun license.

A concealed handgun license expires four years from the date of issuance, unless renewed.

Law enforcement has no legal obligation to protect an individual from crime, even if the individual has received death threats. An individual who has been harmed after he or she asked the police for help cannot successfully sue the police or sheriff’s department for “failure to protect." They are not bodyguards and they have no legal duty to protect YOU.

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