Once you have your CHL, you can
just drop a gun in your pocket and otherwise behave as normal.
However, you then stand a chance of getting into trouble unless you pay a bit more attention.
Understand the law
Before starting to carry in Oregon, it's a really good idea to become familiar with
Oregon firearms laws. One way to do this is to read the statutes. See the
section of this website a link to the Oregon Revised
The ORS are written surprisingly clearly for something (mainly) created by lawyers.
However, remember that there are still a number of local ordinances that can be
imposed by different localities, so you may need to refer to those too, unless you have your
CHL, which for most practical purposes overrides any local ordinances.
You should also bear in mind that in practice the written law is modified by
judicial case law. In most cases this is simply clarifying areas left poorly (or not at all)
defined by the text of the law itself. But in some cases, case law may end up modifying
the law in such a way that a simple reading of the text of the law may not be sufficient
to keep you out of trouble.
For a definitive answer to any legal question about Oregon law you really should seek
advice from a competent lawyer. However, that can be expensive and time consuming, and for
most practical purposes referring to something like
by Don Leach specifically regarding concealed carry, or
Oregon firearms law.
Keep in mind though, good as these books are, they are a snapshot in time
and the law can change quickly and without notice.
Oregon is an open carry state. Under state law, there are no restrictions on open carry.
However, when Oregon implemented its conceald carry laws, and its preemption statute
effectively overriding local laws, it left a few openings for localities to implement
restrictions on the carrying of loaded firearms in public places. As you may expect,
the larger metropolitan areas have taken advantage of this, and implemented local
ordinances effectively banning the carrying of loaded firearms in public. Interestingly,
if you have an Oregon CHL, the state law overrides the local law, and a CHL allows
you to open carry in an area which would be off-limits without it.
If you are interested in open carry in areas where it is forbidden by local
law (Portland, Beaverton, Tigard, Eugene etc.) you should certainly get your CHL
first. Note that in their infinite wisdom, judges have declared that your front porch
and the interior of your car are "public places" for the purposes of these laws.
Oregon is a relatively friendly state for concealed carry. There are few areas that
are off-limits, and basically no restrictions on how you carry.
Unlike some states, there are no issues with having to keep your gun absolutely
concealed at all times. If it becomes visible at any point, it is covered by open carry,
and open carry is ok anywhere that concealed carry is. So you don't have to
be paranoid about concealment.
At least, not from the legal point of view. There might be practical reasons why
you should consider it important, for example, not attracting attention of
people who will feel it their duty to call the police if they even think someone has
As a general rule you should carry your gun in a properly constructed holster of
some variety, not only to keep it secure, but because it is not unknown for people to
have accidents when trying to pull a gun out of a pocket, purse or other location
under stress and in a hurry.
It is also worth remembering a a holster is a clue to law enforcement that you
may be one of the good guys, since most criminals that carry firearms don't use
a holster, because they may want to get rid of their gun in a hurry. Tossing
the gun away doesn't achieve much if they are left with a holster, and removing
that is typically a lot more work.
Exactly how you carry your gun will end up being a somewhat personal choice, but
for most people some form of belt holster usually works best. If you choose a
decent manufacturer such as
you should get many years of trouble free service from it.
On the occasions when a belt holster won't work for you, you may want to consider something
a little more unconventional such as a
Which are specially constucted to carry a concealed handgun securely, but relatively
These are also convenient for carrying a pepper spray, which is something I generally
reccommend since it gives a nice intermediate option between harmless and lethal,
and will probably deal perfectly adequately with 90% of the occasions on which
you might otherwise need to draw your gun.
As mentioned above, the Oregon CHL has very few restricted areas (although there are
moves afoot to change this).
The following are explicityly no-go areas for concealed carry:
- Federal buildings. This includes the federal offices in Portland, any post office and places such as visitor's
centers in national parks (the parks themselves are unrestricted).
- Airports. After being beaten severely over the head several times, the Port of Portland Police have
finally accepted that they are forbidden by Oregon law from imposing their own restrictions on firearms within
public areas of PDX. However, firearms are forbidden in the sterile areas (beyond the security checkpoints).
You can carry when going to meet someone at the airport, but if you want to fly with your gun, it needs to be
checked, following all the rules of the TSA and your airline.
- Indian reservations. There are no problems following major highways across Indian land,
but if you leave the highway and enter the reservation you are subject to their laws, and the Oregon CHL
becomes invalid. If you have good reason to need concealed carry you can apply to the chief of tribal police
or the tribal chief for permission (which you apply to depends upon the tribe). Note that in Oregon
casinos are tribal land, so your CHL is invalid there.
- Private property. Owners of private property can forbid carrying weapons on their property. This
includes most shops and businesses. If asked to leave, do so without argument and do not return with your
gun in the future. If you do so you are liable to be subject to arrest for trespass with a firearm, which
you do not want to face.