As the American heartland and historically gun-friendly states continue to post record gun sales and experience a surge of interest in concealed-carry permits for personal protection, it may come as something of a surprise that the same trend is occurring in the Pacific Northwest, a region not usually considered a bastion of support for gun rights.
According to a report published last week, Oregon State Police data indicate the number of concealed-handgun licenses issued in Oregon increased 22.7 percent during the first 6 months of 2013. The increase was spread equally throughout the state—rural and urban areas alike.
The state's most urban counties—those surrounding Portland—exhibited record increases at or greater than the state average, with a 22.9-percent jump in Clackamas County, 23.8 percent in Washington County and 26.2 percent in Multnomah County.
Figures indicate about one in 15 adult Oregonians is now licensed to carry a concealed handgun, up from one in 22 adults just three years ago.
Oregon law requires applicants to attend a gun-safety class that also covers state gun laws. A measure to require Oregon CHL applicants to pass a live-fire test stalled and subsequently died in the 2013 state legislature.
In Washington, where applicants are not required to to take a gun-safety course as they are in Oregon, concealed-pistol license holders number about one in 12 adults. So far in 2013, more than 95,000 concealed handgun permits have been issued in Washington.
Both Washington and Oregon are "shall-issue" states, where state law requires authorities to issue a license unless the applicants are disqualified for criminal records, mental illness or a history of drug abuse.
By contrast, to the south in the "may issue" (and decidedly gun unfriendly) state of California, only one in every 550 adults currently holds a concealed-carry license.