Getting an Oregon CHL

Obtaining your CHL

Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHL) are handled by your county sheriff. You will need to contact your county sheriff's office to get the application form. Many sheriffs have these forms available online. Check your sheriff's website. The form will ask for basic information to determine your eligibility, mostly questions on criminal history, residence status in the USA etc.

In addition, it will list the items that you need to bring with you when returning the form to apply for your CHL. The basic list is:

  • The fully completed form.
  • Two pieces of identification, one of which must have a photo.
  • Evidence of appropriate training

When you take a training course, be certain to get a certificate with your name exactly the same as it appears on the identity document (usually driver's license). While not essential, it makes life easier for you and for the person verifying your identity and documentation.

Some sheriffs ask for additional information on their forms. The most common addition is asking you to provide some number of "character references". In many (most?) cases, these are never actually used, but just in case they are it is wise to let the people whose names you use know, and even more importantly, know how they will respond! Think of this as giving references for a job. You would not list someone that you knew, or suspected might give you a bad reference.

For non-US citizens, you will need to produce evidence of your right to residence in the USA (e.g. green card), and some evidence of your intent to obtain US citizenship.

Once you have completed your form and assembled all the required paperwork, the next step is a visit to your local sheriff's office to make the application.

How this works depends upon your local sheriff. In some cases there are dedicated staff who will receive and process your application at any time during normal working hours. In other cases specific times and days are set aside to process CHL applications. In other cases, you will have to mail in the completed form and wait for an appointment to go into the office. Check the process and times when you pick up your application form. Counties with large populations will probably require an appointment.

Do not take your gun with you when you go to the sheriff's office.

When you make the application, you will be photographed and your fingerprints taken. Depending upon how well financed your county sheriff's office is, they may be equipped with the latest "no-ink" fingerprinting systems. In other cases you will get inky fingers (but they always provide you with the materials to clean up, and the ink comes off easily when the right cleaning materials are used).

Once the application process is complete, they will send you away with a warning that it can take up to 45 days to process the background check, and that until you receive the CHL you may not carry a concealed firearm. In many cases, processing is complete in much less time.


The Oregon CHL is valid for four years, after which it must be renewed. Most counties do not send any form of renewal notice. It is up to you to remember when your CHL expires, and to apply for a renewal sometime in the 30 days before it expires.

This requires a trip to the sheriff's office. If they decide that the photo that they have is out of date they will take another photo. They will take your old CHL and give you a receipt which acts as a temporary replacement for your CHL (I would not rely upon the receipt in states that recognize an Oregon CHL). The replacement arrives in the mail a few days to weeks later. If your CHL has expired (even by one day) when you apply for the renewal, the receipt will not have the endorsement to substitute for your CHL until the new one arrives and you will not be able to carry concealed until it does. Make certain to apply before your CHL expires.

Carrying the license

Make certain that you have the licence with you when you are carrying concealed, or when open carrying in an area that has local ordinances forbidding it. Oregon law doesn't require that you produce the license, but it does give the police the authority to assume that you don't have one unless they see it.

Does Having a CHL "Put you on a list"?

Pretty much anything you do these days puts you on some sort of list.

There are currently about a quarter of a million people with an Oregon CHL, so you are in good company. Unlike some states, you don't have to provide any information on the gun you will carry. In fact, you don't even have to own a gun to get a CHL.

After some Oregon "journalists" jumped on the bandwaggon of Doxxing CHL owners a while ago, CHL registration information was reclassified to make it not public record, unless you agree to that. As part of the CHL process the sheriff should ask if you want your information to be public or not. I don't know of anyone that has said yes to that question (although there may be one ... somewhere ...).

Open Carry in Oregon

Oregon is basically an "open carry" state. By default open carry is legal anywhere that you can legally possess a gun. However, its not quite that simple. The preemption statute says:

(1) Except as expressly authorized by state statute, the authority to regulate
in any matter whatsoever the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession,
storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms
and components thereof, including ammunition, is vested solely in the Legislative Assembly.

(2) Except as expressly authorized by state statute, no county, city or other
municipal corporation or district may enact civil or criminal ordinances,
including but not limited to zoning ordinances, to regulate, restrict or prohibit
the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation
or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof,
including ammunition. Ordinances that are contrary to this subsection are void. 


HOWEVER, there is also:

(1) A city or county may adopt ordinances to regulate, restrict or prohibit
the possession of loaded firearms in public places as defined in ORS 161.015 (General definitions).

(2) Ordinances adopted under subsection (1) of this section do not apply to or affect:
   (a) A law enforcement officer.
   (b) A member of the military in the performance of official duty.
   (c) A person licensed to carry a concealed handgun.


It continues with the exemptions, but the important part is there, they CAN regulate possession of loaded firearms in public places, unless you have a CHL. Portland courts have defined the interior of your car, and even the deck of your house as "public places" for the purposes of this law.

Portland,  Beaverton and a few other areas have local ordinances against open carry. In these areas, a CHL is your friend.

For a list of known locations with local ordinances see Oregon Firearms Federation Website.

FBI Murder Statistics for Oregon

How much of a problem are "assault weapons" in Oregon?

Probably the best way to answer this is to take a look at the crime statistics gathered by the FBI. 2017 is the latest year for which full statistics are available. The table of interest is here.

To save you having to look through the statistics for all states here are the important numbers for Oregon:

  • Total murders: 100
  • Total murders by firearm: 58
  • Total murders by handgun: 34
  • Total murders by rifle: 2
  • Total murders by shotgun: 2
  • Total murders by unknown type of firearm: 20

6% of murders used a rifle. They don't break down the type of rifle any further (mostly because that is meaningless), but its highly unlikely that these were all AR-15 or AK47 style rifles.

Continuing with the murder stats:

  • Total murders by knife/cutting implement: 17
  • Total murders by "other weapons": 22
  • Total murders by hands, fists, feet etc: 3

Seems that getting knives and other weapons "off the streets" might be more useful.