Retired Judge Takes Sheriff To Court Over CCW Denial

EUGENE, OREGON — A retired Lane County judge is seeking to dispute a sheriff’s denial of his concealed carry license renewal and it’s calling into question the entire process that Oregon uses to issue concealed carry permits in the first place.

Retired Circuit Judge James Hargreaves, 72, asserted that he had completed all the proper procedures to prove his competency with a handgun yet Sheriff Byron Trapp still denied his application.  His reasoning?  Trapp felt that the legally mandated process in Oregon wasn’t enough to demonstrate competency with a handgun.

Hargreaves, who formerly held a concealed carry permit in Oregon which has never been revoked, argues he demonstrates sufficient competency based upon existing Oregon law.

Oregon’s Shady “Shall Permit” Practices Called Into Question

Oregon is a “shall permit” state.  According to Oregon Law, OR.166.291, there is a clear process by which an applicant may apply and be accepted for a concealed carry permit.  While the sheriff of a county is the authority who makes the final decision on issuance of a permit, that sheriff is obliged to have a reason laid out by Oregon law.  He can’t just simply decide “well, that’s not good enough.”

And in the case of Hargreaves, he demonstrated the proper criteria for being able to receive a concealed carry permit.  Presented as evidence to the court is proof of Hargreaves having been previously issued a concealed carry permit in Oregon, which according to the law, is sufficient enough to prove competency.

Included in the law are other options which include taking an NRA approved pistol course, proof of prior military experience with a handgun, and attending hunting and game classes offered through the state.

Localities Left With A Lot Of Power

In the middle of this debate is an issue that has been daunting residents of Oregon for some time.  Oregon is, by law, a “shall permit” state yet they allow localities to decide firearm provisions.  For those without a concealed carry permit, a county in Oregon can arbitrarily decide that entire areas are off limits.

Classic examples of this can be seen in most of Oregon’s more populated regions.  Oregon cities and counties that heavily restrict the open carry of firearms include:

  • Astoria (City)
  • Beaverton (City)
  • Independence (City)
  • Newport (City)
  • Oregon City (City)
  • Portland (City)
  • Salem (City)
  • Tigard (City)
  • Multnomah (County)

So, in the absence of a concealed carry permit, Oregonians are heavily restricted in their ability to defend themselves with firearms outside of their home.  Thus, it’s all the more in the interest of an Oregonian to apply for and receive a concealed carry permit if he or she is able.

If Hargreaves had not contested this decision by Sheriff Trapp, then there would be little case precedent to challenge future sheriffs from arbitrarily denying a resident his or her lawful right to obtain a concealed carry permit.

Hargreaves Hoping To Challenge Dangerous Precedent

via Register Guard

“As indicated in my petition, the sheriff and I have a legal dispute involving the meaning of the language” in a section of state law that spells out how an applicant may prove competency with a handgun.

“My petition is the method provided for by law for resolving that dispute,” he wrote. “Some judge will rule on this matter in due course.”

Perhaps those in support of the Second Amendment ought be thankful that it was a former Circuit Court judge whom had been challenged this way.  How many others had been denied on similar grounds but did not have the legal experience or time to pursue fully in a court of law?

The biggest threat of all is law enforcement selectively interpreting criteria.  Cherry picking, as it’s called, has no place in regulation.  If Oregonians want to change the “shall permit” criteria to something more thoroughly worded, that is something that needs to be passed through the legislature.  That’s the democratic process.

Otherwise, localities in Oregon are left to selectively interpret the law however authority determines – a truly dangerous situation.

What do you think about a sheriff selectively denying a concealed carry permit without legal grounds to do so?  Tell us about it in the comments section below.

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently an advocate for veterans and constitutional carry in the State of New Hampshire. His daily carry is a CZ-75D in a Specter IWB Holster made by Lenwood Holsters out of Missouri.
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