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Legal Information: Oregon

Oregon State Gun Laws

State Gun Laws

Basic Info and Definitions

What is the difference between federal and state gun laws? Why do I need to understand both?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both “federal gun laws” and “state gun laws.” The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself. Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws. Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well. You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws. Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws. If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor. If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor). For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun? If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

What is a felony?

Throughout these gun law pages, we will refer to gun laws that make it illegal for someone convicted of a felony to have a gun. Oregon defines a felony as any crime that is listed as a felony in Oregon’s criminal laws or a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.1

However, you cannot always tell if someone was convicted of a felony only by looking at the amount of time s/he actually served in prison since sentences are often reduced or pled down. If you are unsure if the abuser was convicted of a felony, you might want to talk to the prosecutor who handled the criminal case against the abuser to find out or go to the courthouse and search the conviction records.

1 Or. Rev. Stat. § 161.525

I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

Oregon state law says that a person cannot have or buy a gun if s/he:

  • is subject to a restraining order, protection order, or protective order that:
    • was issued after a hearing where s/he was given notice and an opportunity to be heard;
    • orders that s/he not stalk, intimidate, molest, or menace an intimate partner; and
    • specifically finds that s/he represents a believable threat to the physical safety of an intimate partner or a child of either party;1
  • is subject to an extreme risk protection order;2
  • was convicted of a “qualifying misdemeanor” against a family member. A “qualifying misdemeanor” is one in which physical force was used or attempted, or the victim was threatened with the use of a deadly weapon;3
  • was convicted of a felony or found “guilty except for insanity;”
  • within the past four years, went through juvenile court for a crime that would be a felony or a “misdemeanor involving violence” if it had been committed by an adult;
  • is under 18 – however, someone who is under 18 could possess a long gun temporarily for hunting or target practice with the permission of his/her parent or guardian;
  • was found by a judge to be a person with a mental illness who was committed to the Oregon Health Authority; or
  • was found by a judge to be a person with a mental illness and is subject to an order prohibiting him/her from buying or having a firearm.4

Also, if someone applies for a license to carry a concealed handgun, that license will only be granted if s/he:

  • has not been served with a citation to appear in court for a civil stalking protective order;
  • has no civil stalking protective order against him/her;
  • has no restraining order to prevent abuse against him/her.
  • is not a convicted felon;
  • has not been convicted of a misdemeanor within the four years prior to the application for a gun license;
  • has not been convicted of a drug offense or participated in a court-supervised drug diversion program (although there can be an exception for a one-time misdemeanor conviction for marijuana);
  • has no outstanding warrant for arrest;
  • is not on pretrial release (while awaiting a criminal trial for a felony);
  • is not a registered sex offender in any state;
  • is a U.S. citizen;
  • has been a legal resident alien here for six months or more;
  • is age 21 or older;
  • has no outstanding warrant for his/her arrest;
  • is not on pretrial release (while awaiting a criminal trial for a felony);
  • has not participated in a court-supervised drug diversion program;
  • is not under an order due to mental illness that prohibits him/her from possessing a firearm; and
  • has not been dishonorably discharged from the military.5

If any of these situations apply to the abuser, it may be illegal for him/her to have a gun. Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, may restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

Note: Some of these gun restrictions may not apply to military members, police officers, probation/parole officers, certain federal officials, or licensed hunters or fishermen while hunting or fishing, or while going to or returning from a hunting or fishing trip.6

1 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.255(1)(a)
2 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.543(1)
3 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.255(1)(b)
4 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.250(1)(c)
5 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.291(1)
6 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.260

Guns and Restraining Orders

I have a restraining order and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

Under Oregon law, a person cannot buy or have a gun if that person is subject to a restraining order that:

  1. was issued after s/he received notice of his/her ability to request a hearing for an opportunity to be heard;
  2. orders that s/he not stalk, intimidate, molest, or menace an intimate partner; and
  3. specifically finds that s/he represents a “credible threat” to the physical safety of an intimate partner or a child of either party.1

Note: You will likely get an ex parte order when you file your petition, which means the order is issued without the respondent being given notice of the hearing or being present at the hearing. This type of order may not qualify as a restraining order that restricts a respondent’s ability to get or have a gun since it does not meet requirement #1 in the list above.2

If the abuser doesn’t request a show-cause hearing, then your ex parte order will be considered “final” without the abuser ever appearing in court. The key thing to remember, however, is that the respondent does then have the opportunity to request a hearing if s/he wants to argue against the restraining order. Therefore, the firearm restriction would still apply as long as the abuser received notice of his/her opportunity to request a hearing.3 If you are unsure if your restraining order meets the requirements listed above, please talk to a lawyer.

Also, if the abuser applies for a concealed handgun license, that license will not be granted if the abuser:

  • has been served with a citation to appear in court for a civil stalking protective order;
  • has a civil stalking protective order against him/her; or
  • has a restraining order to prevent abuse against him/her.4

If the abuser already has a concealed handgun license, that license can be canceled (revoked) by the sheriff for any of these reasons listed above.5 For more information on how this process of revoking a handgun is started, you may want to talk to a sheriff. You can find a link to your local sheriff’s office on our Oregon Sheriff Departments page.

In addition, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun if you have a restraining order against him/her that meets certain requirements - you can read more about this on our Federal Gun Laws page.

1 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.255(1)(a)
2 Or. Rev. Stat. § 107.718
3 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.255(1)(a)(A)(ii)
4 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.291(1)(m)
5 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.293(3)

Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a restraining order?

Depending on the judge in your case, there may be some things you can do to increase the chances that the judge will require that an abuser’s guns are taken away. Keep in mind these tips may or may not result in the outcome that you are hoping for. Every judge is different. However, here are a few suggestions that may help:

  • If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever shown you the guns or displayed them as a way to intimidate you and maintain control over you.
  • Ask the judge to specifically write in your restraining order that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect. The form that you will have to fill out to petition for a restraining order will have a place where you can request additional protections. You can ask that the abuser’s gun(s) be taken away in that section.
  • It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser’s guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the restraining order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:
    • require the abuser to give his/her guns to the police, or require the police to go to the abuser’s house and get them;
    • make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
    • order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.
  • If the gun restriction is granted, check to make sure that it is written on your order before leaving the courthouse.

Guns and Criminal Convictions

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he have a gun?

Oregon state law says that it is illegal for a person convicted of a felony or a “qualifying misdemeanor” to have a gun in his/her possession at any time.1 A qualifying misdemeanor means physical force was used or attempted, or the person threatened use of a deadly weapon against the victim.2

Also, if the abuser applies for a license to carry a concealed handgun, that license will not be granted if s/he:

  • is a convicted felon;
  • has been convicted of a misdemeanor within the four years prior to the application for a gun license;
  • has been convicted of a drug offense or participated in a court-supervised drug diversion program (although there can be an exception for a one-time misdemeanor conviction for marijuana);
  • has an outstanding warrant for arrest;
  • is on pretrial release (while awaiting a criminal trial for a felony); or
  • is a registered sex offender in any state.3

If the abuser already has a concealed handgun permit, the permit can be canceled (revoked) by the sheriff for any of the reasons listed above.4 For contact information for your local sheriff’s department, go to our Oregon Sheriff Departments page.

Federal laws, which apply to all states, also restrict a person’s right to have a gun if s/he has been convicted of certain crimes. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 166.250(1)(c); 166.255(1)
2 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.255(1)(b)
3 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.291
4 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.293(3)

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

You can read more about the NICS in What will happen if the abuser tries to buy a gun when s/he isn’t supposed to?

The Abuser Isn't Supposed to Have a Gun...Now What?

If the abuser’s gun is taken away, what will happen to it?

Within 24 hours after an abuser has been convicted of a qualifying crime or a qualifying restraining order has been issued against him/her, s/he has to transfer any firearms and ammunition that are in his/her possession. The judge will inform the abuser about this verbally and will include firearms restrictions in the judgment or order. The abuser can transfer the firearms to:

  • a law enforcement agency;
  • a licensed gun dealer; or
  • a third party that has completed a background check and signed a statement under the penalty of perjury that includes:
    • that s/he understands that the abuser cannot have a gun; and
    • that s/he, the third party, can be punished criminally if s/he lets the abuser have the gun.1

The agency or person that receives the firearms from the abuser will provide written proof of receipt. Within two days, the abuser then has to file certain documents, which includes proof of this receipt and the signed third party statement if the guns were transferred to a third party. 1

The abuser has to file these documents with the judge, and also with the district attorney. If s/he fails to file the documents as required, the district attorney can bring a contempt case against the abuser.1

When the restraining order prohibiting firearm possession has expired, the abuser can request for the firearms and ammunition s/he transferred to be returned to him/her. The person or agency returning the items has to perform a background check first to make sure that the abuser is not prohibited from possessing firearms for another reason. If law enforcement has the firearms and ammunition, they can hold them for 72 hours and also notify the Department of Justice about the request. Law enforcement will also confirm that the abuser is the owner of the items or has permission from the owner to possess them before turning them over to the abuser.2

1 Or. Rev. Stat. § Ch. 201, §§ 3; 4
2 Or. Rev. Stat. § Ch. 201, §5

Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the state police. If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our Oregon Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in Oregon on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer.

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our Oregon Advocates and Shelters page.

Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law. If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.1

1United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

What is the penalty for violating state firearm laws?

According to Oregon state law, the crime of illegal possession of a firearm is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 364 days and a fine of up to $6,250.1 However, if the abuser is a convicted felon who is in possession of a firearm, it is a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $125,000.2

If the abuser has a gun in violation of a specific term against possessing firearms that was written into your restraining order by the judge, s/he may be arrested for the crime of violating the restraining order. Violation of the specific terms of a stalking protective order, for example, can be considered either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class C felony, depending on certain circumstances.3

The abuser might also be violating federal gun laws as well, which carry separate criminal penalties. Go to Federal Gun Laws for more information.

1 Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 166.250(5); 161.615(1); 161.635(1)(a)
2 Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 166.270(5); 161.605(3); 161.625(1)(d)
3 Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.750(2)(a), (2)(b)

What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by federal firearms licensees (FFLs), such as firearms dealers or pawnbrokers, to instantly determine whether someone is eligible to receive (own, possess, transport) firearms or explosives.1 If the abuser has a qualifying restraining order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from legally buying a gun. Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system. Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales and so in those situations, the seller is not looking in the NICS.

If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.

1National Criminal Justice Reference Service website

More Information and Where to Get Help

I do not have a restraining order against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Can s/he have a gun?

Even if you do not have a restraining order against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a crime, Oregon state laws make it illegal to have a gun in many other circumstances. It is illegal for him/her to have a gun at any time if:

  • s/he is under 18 – however, someone who is under 18 could possess a long gun temporarily for hunting or target practice with the permission of his/her parent or guardian;
  • the judge found him/her to be a person with mental illness and committed him/her to the Oregon Health Authority; or
  • a judge found him/her to be a person with mental illness and issued an order prohibiting him/her from having a firearm as a result of the mental illness.1

You might also be able to apply for an Extreme Risk Protection Order if you feel that you or your children are at risk of serious immediate harm. An extreme risk protection order is an order signed by a judge that keeps a person from having or getting a gun.

Also, an application for a license to carry a concealed gun will not be granted if the person who applied:

  • is not a U.S. citizen;
  • is not a legal resident alien who has been here for six months or more;
  • is under 21;
  • has an outstanding warrant for his/her arrest;
  • is on pretrial release (while awaiting a criminal trial for a felony);
  • has participated in a court-supervised drug diversion program;
  • has received a citation to appear in court for a civil stalking protective order;
  • is under an order due to mental illness that prohibits him/her from possessing a firearm;
  • has been dishonorably discharged from the military; or
  • is a registered sex offender in any state.2

If the abuser already has a concealed handgun permit, that permit can be canceled (revoked) by the sheriff for any of the above reasons.3 To contact your local sheriff, you can go to our Oregon Sheriff Departments page.

For additional information on gun laws in Oregon, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun under other circumstances. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.250(1)(c)
2 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.291(1)
3 Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.293(3)

I've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state gun laws can be confusing. There are people who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x 2.
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area - see our Oregon Advocates and Shelters page.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.