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How Will the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision on New York’s Concealed-Carry Firearm Permits Impact Oregon Residents?

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a broad right to arm themselves in public, striking down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home and setting off a scramble in other states that have similar restrictions.

An official with the gun industry’s top trade group stated, “The court has made clear that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is not limited to the home.” He continued, “That the burden is on the government to justify restrictions, not on the individual to justify to the government a need to exercise their rights.”

The decision is expected to spur a wave of lawsuits seeking to loosen existing state and federal restrictions. So, what does this mean for Oregon residents?

How Does the New Supreme Court Ruling Affect Gun Owners in Oregon?

Oregon is a shall-issue concealed-carry state and is notable for having very few restrictions on where a concealed firearm may be carried.

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., wrote that “shall issue” laws used objective criteria and remained presumptively constitutional. States were generally free to require, he wrote, “fingerprinting, a background check, a mental health records check, and training in firearms handling and in laws regarding the use of force.”

The Second Amendment, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority, protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”

States can continue to prohibit guns in some locations like schools and government buildings, Justice Thomas wrote, but the ruling left open where exactly such bans might be allowed.

Oregon has a statewide preemption for its concealed-carry laws — with limited exceptions, counties and cities cannot place limits on the ability of people to carry concealed weapons beyond those provided by state law.

In Oregon, the one possible exception is that concealed-carry licenses are issued by each county’s sheriff and are valid statewide. The sheriff is given personal discretion if that sheriff “has reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant has been or is reasonably likely to be a danger to self or others.”

There is no pure definition of what that reason must be.

Oregon is also an open-carry state, but cities and counties are free to limit public possession of loaded firearms by individuals who do not have an Oregon Concealed Handgun License. The cities of Portland, Beaverton, Tigard, Oregon City, Salem, and Independence, as well as Multnomah County have banned loaded firearms in all public places for those without a license.

What Does the New York Case Tell Us About Potential Changes to Concealed Carry Laws Across the Nation?

The case centered on a lawsuit from two men who were denied the licenses they sought in New York, saying that “the state makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen to obtain a license.”

Justice Thomas wrote that citizens may not be required to explain to the government why they sought to exercise a constitutional right.

“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need,” he wrote.

Justice Thomas wrote that states remained free to ban guns in sensitive places, giving a few examples: schools, government buildings, legislative assemblies, polling places, and courthouses.

But he cautioned that “expanding the category of ‘sensitive places’ simply to all places of public congregation that are not isolated from law enforcement defines the category of ‘sensitive places’ far too broadly.”

That has injected an immediate element of uncertainty into the country’s patchwork of local and federal firearms regulations — and will almost certainly prompt dozens of legal challenges against many more localities, states, and perhaps the federal government, according to legal experts and officials.

The ruling, in effect, establishes a far less constraining standard than the prior standard that federal judges can now apply in gun cases.

States and localities must now prove that exclusionary or restrictive gun laws are based on historical assessments of how guns have been traditionally carried or used — and not solely on the determination of public safety needs by officials, as has been the case since a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 2008.

Have You Been Arrested for Gun Crimes in Oregon?

If you have been arrested for gun crimes in Oregon, contact our skilled Portland criminal defense attorneys today to learn more about your legal rights and how we can help protect them by calling 503-549-1077 or contact us online today.

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