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Legal Information: Oregon

State Gun Laws

Laws current as of July 8, 2024

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