Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hiking with a Concealed Firearm in Oregon: Legal or Not?

Many Oregonians mistakenly believe that there is an exception for hiking on public lands with a concealed weapon. If you are hiking with a concealed firearm without a concealed handgun license, you'd better have current hunting tags, a shooting club card, or a fishing pole and be prepared to prove such at a jury trial.

The safer bet is to get a CHL, even if you never plan to carry on a day-to-day basis. Many Oregonians get a CHL just for transporting firearms or to be safe on a hiking trail.

ORS 166.250 is the statute that prohibits carrying a concealed firearm on your person or readily accessible within a vehicle. ORS 166.260 sets forth the exceptions:

(1) ORS 166.250 does not apply to or affect:
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(h) A person who is licensed under ORS 166.291 and 166.292 to carry a concealed handgun.
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(2) [Except for convicted felons], ORS 166.250 does not apply to or affect:
(a) Members of any club or organization, for the purpose of practicing shooting at targets upon the established target ranges, whether public or private, while such members are using any of the firearms referred to in ORS 166.250 upon such target ranges, or while going to and from such ranges.
(b) Licensed hunters or fishermen while engaged in hunting or fishing, or while going to or returning from a hunting or fishing expedition.

Mike Arnold,
Attorney at Law
Arnold Law Office, LLC
Eugene, Oregon


Zak Johnson said...

Of course, "open carry" is legal in most of Oregon. The only problem is that such tends to be provocative or frightening in contemporary culture. Civility and legality both suggest everyone who wants to carry should follow your advice and obtain a CHL.

C. Michael Arnold said...

Definitely "open carry" is the least trouble of all, logistically speaking. However, you are asking for the "man with a gun" 911 call if you do it in a populated area. Then you are pretty much guaranteed police contact.

brian r said...

Yes, logistically, open carry is the easiest, but as stated, may cause a bit of panic. This is very different than the attitudes in some other states. I lived in northwestern Montana for around 10 years and still visit when I can, and it is almost rare to run into someone hiking that is not openly carrying. Of course there is the threat of Grizzly there which we do not share. I'm just happy that I have my CHL.

Anonymous said...

Sure wish I could get some sheriff in OR who's open to my getting an OR CHL. I'd love to do some hiking/backpacking down there but refuse to do so in victim status. We're a lot more trusting of our citizens in WA state. This is why I don't go to Oregon anymore. The idea that I become a victim just by crossing the state line sickens me.


brian r said...

Valid point. I wish that Oregon and Washington would recognize each others' CHL's. Do you know if it is relatively easy for an Oregon resident to get a Washington CHL? What counties in Oregon have you contacted?

Jodi said...

I find it difficult to keep track of which agencies allow concealed carry and which ones forbid it. Then there's trying to keep track of whether you are on Forest Service, BLM or National Park land. I find hiking with a CHL to be too difficult and as a result I have been putting of hiking since I got my CHL. Anyone have any tips?

brian r said...


After reading a book about Oregon's gun laws, there are actually very few places that concealed carry is unlawful if you have a CHL. This is off topic, but even public schools which have signs posted all over restricting weapons, are technically legal to carry in with a CHL. Unfortunately, often the police are as ignorant about the technicalities of gun laws as the rest of us.

Jodi said...

I am thinking of rules on federal land like BLM, Forest Service, National Monument,National Park, etc. Then there is Reservation Land. I am from Utah and their landis a real patchwork of federally owned land, but I got the impression it was similar here. It makes trying to hike legally really complicated. Unless anyone has any tips.

Anonymous said...

Brian, sorry I haven't checked in in a while here. I'll check on your question on the WA end (I think I know the answer already but want to check) and follow up in a day or two. I'll respond to your question as well.

I also have a resource for Jodi, but I'll have to re-research it.


Anonymous said...

Well, the day or two turned into a apologies, and I don't know whether anyone will even see this now.

First of all, Brian, see this:

It underscores my sense that it is easy for an OR resident to get a WA CCW. The hardest part apparently is scheduling a day in state to apply. Various counties have the application on line.

I have found the sheriff's office in Thurston County (Olympia) to be extremely supportive and professional esp. if approached in that mien.

Having said that, read this carefully and make sure of point 1 before coming to WA.

Second, Jodi, do you know the above Handgun Law site?

Also, see the Pack N Go travel planner:

Third, the trainer for my Utah Concealed Carry class informed me that that training and possession of a valid/current UT CCW goes a long way toward making it easier for WA residents to get an OR CCW.

But that still leaves the question of which county to contact. Since permits are issued "at sheriff's will," it means I haven't yet done anything but try to figure out which offices would be a waste of my time. So I have a kind of patchwork list, and still a lot of legwork to do. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I imagine calling an office, being turned down, and going on some "watch list" of people calling around.... Yes, I know that's a bit on the tinfoil-hat side...but also I am a seriously law abiding person, resent that sort of encounter (in my view the only gun license I should ever need is 2A), so additionally try to prepare up front so as not to waste anyone's time.

I'll certainly be working my local connections here in WA when my UT CCW arrives and I'm closer to being able to actually apply. Word on the street here is that OR is particular about who it gives CCWs, which at one level is understandable, but it apparently also involves a fairly high level of local misunderstanding of the law. If all else fails, I may try one of the OR instructors:


brian r said...


Thanks for the in depth reply. It really sounds complicated to get an out-of-state CCL. It is very easy in Oregon to obtain a CCL if you live here. BTW, your posts will always be noticed (at least by me) as every new post gets sent to my email since I am the moderator of this site. Good luck on your quest for an Oregon license.